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Two Rare Mexican Wolf Pups May Help Save Endangered Species

First Posted: May 13, 2013 02:12 PM EDT

Mexican wolves are endangered. Now, though, two newly born Mexican wolf pups may provide some help to the rest of this rare species. Scientists hope that by caring for these pups, they can eventually breed individuals that can be released into the wild.

The Mexican gray wolf is the smallest and most genetically distinct subspecies of wolf in North America. They're actually commonly mistaken as coyotes, though the difference between coyotes and the wolves can clearly be seen by a careful observer. In the past, this wolf roamed throughout vast portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, but all that changed in the early 1900s. The wolves increasingly came into conflict with livestock, and people culled the population in response.

Now, this species may be getting a second chance. In 1998, several captive-reared Mexican wolves were released into the wild for the first time in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. The Mexican wolf captive program is currently taking new strides in order to continue the recovery and preservation of this species--mainly through these two, newly born wolf pups

The two male wolf pups were plucked from their den at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem last week. They were then flown on a jet and bottle-fed until they reached their new home, the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in Indiana. There, they will be raised by foster wolf parents with a good record of raising pups.

How will this help the species, though? The pups were in harm's way. The last time the pups' mother had a litter of eight, all of the pups died within the first month. The cause for these deaths couldn't be determined, but officials planned to be on the safe side this time.

"It's such an emotional and sensitive decision to pluck these pups away from their mother," said Maggie Howell, who runs the Westchester center where the wolf pups were born, in an interview with the NY Post. "I think that at some level you just have to hope that this is something bigger than their pack."

Currently, there are fewer than 400 Mexican grey wolves left. Hopefully, these two wolf pups will grow into healthy individuals and, one day, sire wolves that will eventually be released into the wild. 

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