UPDATE -- Gray Wolf Pups Thriving; Reach Six Week Milestone at Oakland Zoo!

Oakland Zoo
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June 25, 2019
Mother, Sikiyou, nursing her 4 six week old pups. Photo: Steven Gotz

OAKLAND, CA – June 24, 2019… Oakland Zoo’s new gray wolf pups are now officially out of their den at six weeks old. Siskiyou, a first-time mom, delivered the pups on May 13th. The pups are thriving and beginning to explore 2.16-acre habitat with mom and dad, and appear to be comfortable with zoo guests eager to catch a glimpse of them. All hands are on deck for Oakland Zoo Animal Care and Veterinary Staff to perform physical exams and administer vaccinations tomorrow morning.

Parents, Siskiyou and Sequoia arrived at Oakland Zoo just over a year ago, in April 2018. Both born in captivity, the wolves relocated to the Zoo’s California Trail expansion as part of a multifaceted partnership with the Zoo and California Wolf Center (CWC), an organization dedicated to helping wild wolves return to California after being extirpated during government run anti-predator campaigns a century ago. 

Shy, reclusive, and sensitive in nature, wolves, unlike dogs, commonly mate for life and therefore take time to develop relationships. Upon their arrival, zookeepers, volunteers and docents made every effort to ensure the wolves had an ideal environment and atmosphere to ensure their comfort and emotional well-being. When wolves feel comfortable, they are more likely to bond and have offspring.

Six week old gray wolf pups. Photo: Steven Gotz

“We are thrilled the pups are doing well-mom and dad have been amazing first-time parents,” said Darren E. Minier, Assistant Director,Animal Care, Conservation, and Research. “Creating a pack is important to the emotional health of wolves; Siskiyou and Sequoia’s pups will have a forever home at Oakland Zoo with their parents.”

Oakland Zoo is communicating extensively with CWC regarding wolf breeding activities and whelping, seeking their guidance and expertise at every step of the process. The CWC has bred the Mexican Gray Wolf, an endangered species, for reintroduction for the last 30 years, and were instrumental in guiding the Zoo’s ‘wolf wellness’ program.

With Siskiyou considered an older wolf and being a first-time mother, the Zoo planned for contingencies and interventions for any potential complications. Keepers, Veterinary staff, and wolf attendants hired specifically for the sensitive whelping period, monitor the wolves’ behavior,appetite, and physical condition through live observation during the day and over remote cameras through the night.

Breeding into a pack was a key component for the Zoo’s wolf wellness program. Having a family pack in a spacious natural environment also means guests can see natural wolf behavior, leading to actions to save this shy species. With the successful birthing of these pups, the Zoo does not plan to breed further.

With the story of this new wolf pack, the Zoo and CWC are working to engage the public’s support for the safe return of their wild counterparts to our state. By sharing the whole story of wild wolf recovery,including that of ranchers living with this predator, opportunities are created for people in taking action for wolves – such as buying ‘predator friendly beef’.

The partnership with CWC goes beyond the Zoo - to direct involvement in the conservation of wild wolves. Oakland Zoo is sponsoring the Wolf Center’s Range Steward program. Range Stewards are trained ranchers working to rekindle the ‘herd instinct’ in cattle, thus reducing the chance of wolf-livestock conflict. These actions increase connection and tolerance of ranchers, ensuring livestock are safe and wolves achieve long term recovery.

The wolf habitat at Oakland Zoo’s California Trail is 2-acres, complete with a pool, trees, dens, and plenty of cover for these elusive animals. Years of planning took place to ensure that wolves at Oakland Zoo would be housed in the most comfortable space possible.

Mother, Siskiyou, taking her pups out of their den at Oakland Zoo. Photo: Steven Gotz

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ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO AND THE CONSERVATION SOCIETY OF CALIFORNIA:

Oakland Zoo, home to more than 750 native and exotic animals,is managed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC); a non-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums(AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.

 

ABOUT CALIFORNIA WOLF CENTER:

The California Wolf Center is dedicated to the recovery of wolves in the wild lands they once roamed. We envision a landscape where wolves thrive in healthy ecosystems and wolves and people successfully coexist. Our organization is at the forefront of creating a new model for long term wolf recovery through a scientifically based, socially acceptable approach that provides real and practical solutions to those sharing the landscape with wild wolves. We offer tours of our conservation center in Julian, CA with a reservation. Visit www.californiawolfcenter.org or call 760-765-0030 for more information.