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Red Wolf

  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Genus: Canis
  • Species: rufus
Fun Fact

To enhance the genetic diversity of red wolves in the wild, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery Program places red wolf pups born at zoos and wildlife facilities with wild mothers and their pups. This practice is known as fostering and is a good way to reintroduce red wolves back in to the wild.

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About Red Wolves

Red wolves are one of the most endangered canids in the world. In the 1970’s only 14 individuals were thought to still exist in the wild. At that time, all of those individuals were captured and put into a zoo breeding program. Because of the conservation efforts of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many zoos, the population numbers were able to increase in a protected area in North Carolina, part of their native habitat. Red wolf numbers have since decreased again and it is reported that only about 20 wolves remain in their native habitat. There are more than 200 red wolves currently in zoos and wildlife facilities.

On average these animals weigh about 50 pounds and stand 28 inches tall. The males are usually about 10 percent bigger than the females. Red wolves are pack animals. Their packs usually consist of a dominant (alpha) female and male and subordinate offspring.

Red Wolves in the Wild


The red wolf inhabits swamps, forests, wetlands and bushlands.


Historically they ranged throughout the southeastern United States.  Currently they are only found in a protected area in North Carolina.


Red wolves are carnivores and their diet consists mostly of small mammals like rabbits and rodents. They will also eat insects, berries and occasionally deer.

Population Status

Red wolf is listed as “critically endangered” as a result of intensive predator control programs and the alteration of their habitat.

Field Conservation

The Red Wolf Coalition focuses its efforts solely on raising awareness about this species and helping to protect it in the wild. The Akron Zoo’s Conservation Fund supports very high frequency radio tracking collars for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery Program. Tracking the wolves provides valuable information to help protect them, as well as learn more about this species.

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