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Akron Zoo's red wolf passes away

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Thursday, February 22, 2018 9:01:00 AM

The Akron Zoo is sad to announce the death of Rue, their female red wolf. Rue was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in 2014, and her health has been monitored closely by animal care staff. In December 2017, Rue began to show symptoms of IBD. The zoo’s veterinary team began an aggressive therapeutic plan to address her symptoms, but Rue did not respond positively. Rue’s health significantly declined over the past two months, and the decision was made to humanely euthanize her on Feb. 17.

Inflammatory bowel disease is common in red wolves and is not curable. Currently, the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) and the Point Defiance Zoo are studying IBD in red wolves to determine the cause.

Red wolves are one of the world’s most endangered canids, with only 60 wolves estimated to be left in the wild. Native to the eastern U.S., red wolves can now only be found in one protected area in North Carolina. Red wolf numbers have rapidly declined in past years due to predator control programs, as the red wolf is often mistaken for a coyote.

The Akron Zoo not only participates in the Red Wolf SSP, but also supports the Red Wolf Coalition – an organization that focuses on raising awareness and protecting red wolves in the wild – and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s efforts to protect the species through the Red Wolf Recovery program.   

"We are devastated by the loss of Rue, not only for our family here at the Akron Zoo, but also as an ambassador for the red wolf species,” said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO at the Akron Zoo. “Thank you to our veterinary and animal care teams who worked diligently to care for Rue on a daily basis to ensure her welfare. The Akron Zoo remains committed to raising public awareness about the plight of the red wolf, and supporting the recovery of the species to ensure it doesn’t become extinct in the wild for a second time.”

Rue was born at the Miller Park Zoo in Illinois on April 23, 2011. She came to the Akron Zoo in 2013.

In 2015, based on breeding recommendations by the Red Wolf SSP, the Akron Zoo welcomed male wolf, Itabi. Itabi remains on exhibit daily.