Another long howl of the Mexican gray wolf can be heard at the El Paso Zoo as the Zoo welcomes, Zephyr, a 10-year-old Mexican wolf, to his new home.
The Mexican gray wolf was one of the first animals on exhibit when the Zoo was founded in 1910. Mexican wolves hold a special place in the hearts of staff because they are native to the Chihuahuan desert.
The Mexican gray wolf, or “lobo,” is one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid- 1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in the care of humans. Because of populations in zoos and other conservation institutions, Mexican grey wolves were reintroduced into the wild in 1998.
This month marks the 18th anniversary of this historic event, a significant milestone for the lobo – and wildlife conservation. Currently, there are 97 Mexican grey wolves in in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in New Mexico and Arizona.
“The El Paso Zoo is very proud to be a long time participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP). This cooperative program designed to save the Mexican Wolf from extinction is supported by other accredited zoos, conservation organizations, and government wildlife agencies,” said Zoo Director Steve Marshall.
“Our community should also be proud to have the Zoo’s General Curator, John Kiseda, contribute to this effort by serving as one of the program leaders for the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan.”
Though the Zoo will not breed Zephyr with the two 13-year-old female wolves, Ash and Ivy, the Zoo remains an important holding facility for non-breeding wolves. The Zoo has contributed to reproductive research, including semen collection and egg vitrification, which could be very promising for the future Mexican gray wolf population.
Zoo staff is developing an animal introduction plan so Zephyr can join Ash and Ivy’s pack.