Wolf pup offers new hope Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center, holds a Mexican wolf born April 2 at the facility as it is checked by veterinarian Rhiannon McKnight, right, Monday, April 24, 2017, in Eureka, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Wolf pup offers new hope
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A Mexican wolf born in April at a wildlife center in suburban St. Louis is offering new hope for repopulating the endangered species through artificial insemination using frozen sperm.
 
The Mexican wolf population once roamed Mexico and the western U.S. in the thousands but was nearly wiped out by the 1970s, largely from decades of hunting, trapping and poisoning. Commonly known as "El Lobos," the species, distinguished by a smaller, more narrow skull and its gray and brown coloring, was designated an endangered species in 1976.
 
Even today, only 130 Mexican wolves live in the wild and another 220 live in captivity, including 20 at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri.
 
A litter of Mexican wolves was conceived by artificial insemination in Mexico in 2014. But the birth April 2 at the Missouri center was the first for the breed using frozen semen.
 
Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the center, learned that the pup is a boy. He's gaining weight - now at 4.7 pounds after being less than 1 pound at birth - and appears to be progressing well, she said after an exam of the wiggly pup, which has not yet been named.
 
"He's big and strong and healthy!" Mossotti said as other wolves howled from a distance.
 
The center has collaborated with the other organizations for 20 years to freeze semen of Mexican wolves. The semen is stored at the St. Louis Zoo's cryopreservation gene bank, established specifically for the long-term conservation of endangered species.
 
A procedure to inseminate the mom, Vera, was performed Jan. 27.
 
"The technology has finally caught up," Mossotti said.
 
It's a big deal, experts say, because using frozen semen allows scientists to draw from a larger pool of genes, even from wolves that have died.
 
Mossotti said it's possible the pup eventually will be moved to the wild, where it would feed largely on elk, deer and other large hoofed mammals. An adult Mexican wolf will weigh 60 to 80 pounds.
 
The Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona starting in 1998, though the effort has been hurt by everything from politics to illegal killings and genetics. Many of the wolves in the wild have genetic ties to the suburban St. Louis center.
 
The nonprofit was founded in 1971 by zoologist Marlin Perkins, a St. Louis native best known as the host of TV's "Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom." Perkins died in 1986.
 
Mossotti said wolves are a "keystone" species that play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem. She said the caricature of the "Big, Bad Wolf" is a myth about an animal that actually shuns humans.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Wolves are predators. Why are they endangered?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (15)
  • monicas-ste
    5/02/2017 - 01:56 p.m.

    It's a shame that people were hunting, trapping, and poisoning them. At least they have a good chance now of bringing their population back up. It's great that they're helping out.

  • peytonw-cel
    5/03/2017 - 10:00 a.m.

    Over the years, these wolves have lost many of their habitats. Also, hunters do not like wolves because wolves kill the animals that the hunters hunt. This causes hunters to kill wolves when they see one. Many people hunt these wolves just because they like to. These wolves are endangered and need to be protected and recovered.

  • noahr-ste
    5/04/2017 - 01:06 p.m.

    LOOK HOW CUTE THAT THING IS!!!! That is nice that they are getting new hope from the new puppies being born. Hopefully the population will increase more and more.

  • charlesj-bur
    5/08/2017 - 05:14 p.m.

    Wolves are endangered because humans kill, poison, and trap them. Most people don't realize that wolves can and also cant be dangerous. I cant really think of a way to relate to this.

  • charleyh1-pla
    5/08/2017 - 08:53 p.m.

    A new Mexican wolf pup was born in the St. Louis, Missouri wildlife center becoming the first wolf pup born from artificial insemination of frozen semen into a female wolf at the St. Louis center. The history of the center intrigues me as well as how successful they have been in the past with other species. I enjoyed the description of the atmosphere at the center with the wolves howling around the worker. The last three sentences seem irrelevant, however, to the rest of the focus of the article. While the fact about the organization's founder is unique, the final two sentences don't flow well and don't connect to the rest of the story.

  • brettb-pla
    5/09/2017 - 10:36 a.m.

    Wolves live outside my house and I can get very scared. However, wolves remind me of dogs and I love dogs. Although many are scared of wolves, we still need to protect their species. This pup is very adorable and I hope that it will bring awareness to the issue of wolf extinction. I hope wolves will repopulate in the future and we can find a solution to conflicts between wolves and humans.

  • seanm2-bur
    5/09/2017 - 01:07 p.m.

    Wolves are endangered because people were hunting, trapping, and poisoning. Once, I was fishing in a river, and I rarely caught a fish because the river was almost wiped out because of overfishing.

  • siennac-kut
    5/14/2017 - 09:40 p.m.

    Wolfs are endangered because of poisoning, trapping and hunting. It is so so bad that people are killing these poor and beautiful Mexican wolfs.

  • irisp-ste
    5/15/2017 - 11:18 a.m.

    I think this wolf pup is one of the cutest little animals I ever saw. I did not realize the wolf population was so low in this area. I feel bad for the wolves since the females have to be inseminated artificially.

  • italias-ver
    5/19/2017 - 12:08 p.m.

    Yes wolves are predators, but sp are humans. I believe humans are their biggest predator. We over poison, trapped, and killed the mexican wolves. Now we have to work hard to reintroduce them into their natural habitat.

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