A little more than a year after the death of his friend, Huffman the red wolf has a new companion at the Virginia Living Museum.
Katniss, a 9-year-old female red wolf, joined the museum’s outdoor boardwalk trail as one of the museum’s newest non-releasable animals.
“Wolves are highly social creatures who are capable of forming lifelong relationships and bonds with one another,” said Dr. Kelsey Hayden, the museum’s lead veterinarian.
Red wolves are endangered and part of the federal Species Survival Plan. They used to be found throughout the southeast, but because of intensive predator control programs and the shrinking of their habitats in the early 20th century, the wolves were listed as “threatened with extinction” under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967.
Katniss came to the Virginia Living Museum from the Wild Canid Survival & Rescue Center in Eureka, Missouri. She was recommended as a companion for Huffman because the animals are “both mature animals uniquely suited for cohabitation,” the museum said in a news release.
Katniss’s favorite scent and snack is fish. She has an “extremely curious attitude” and an unusual howl with a high pitch, the museum said.
“We are excited to be able to offer a home to Katniss so that she can spend her golden years with us,” Hayden said.
Huffman, 13, was born at the museum. He was placed with a female companion in late spring 2019, but the 11-year-old female wolf became sick and died in October.
The wild red wolf population reached about 120 wolves nearly 10 years ago, but the population has since declined. There are estimated to be fewer than 30 American Red Wolves left in northeastern North Carolina near the Alligator River, which is the only place left in the country where the wolves are living in the wild, the museum said.
There are approximately 245 red wolves in 43 captive breeding facilities throughout the United States, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The red wolf was declared extinct in the wild in 1980, but through the species survival plan and recovery efforts, the wolves were able to be reintroduced to the wild. It was the first time a large carnivore had been declared extinct in the wild and then reintroduced in the United States.
Efforts modeled after the Red Wolf Recovery Program have also been used for gray wolves, Mexican wolves and black-footed ferrets.
Jessica Nolte, 757-247-4513, email@example.com