The Tallahassee Museum’s 2017 red wolf pack could be getting much larger. But, like many human families, it’ll be growing from across a distance.
This is the nature of the Red Wolf Breeding program. Starting with so few wolves (fourteen in the late 1970s), achieving maximum genetic diversity is critical. This means that wolves are always on the move. Two years ago, dad and girl pup shipped off to different zoos to breed. Mom and the three boy pups stayed behind; but now, after three and a half years together, mom is moving on to breed one last time.
Mom birthed a litter before arriving at the Museum in late 2016, ahead of the spring breeding season. She now leaves for Kentucky to try for a third and final litter. I do feel a little sadness that our little family is breaking up and going their separate ways, but mom is reuniting with the father of her first litter. The program has reunions as well as separations.
We’re also losing the “shy pup,” who’s moving on to NC Zoo in North Carolina to breed as well. The Tallahassee Museum doesn’t publicize the names of the wolves, so we’ve referred to them based on observable characteristics. Shy pup hid the most, and was most likely to run into the den when visitors walked up the boardwalk.
The two remaining boy pups are now the senior red wolves at the Tallahassee Museum. And short-tailed pup, the first little pup out of the den when I first went to film footage of the new litter in 2017, might soon become “dad.”
Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for television at WFSU Public Media, covering outdoors and ecology. After years of producing the music program OutLoud, Rob found himself in a salt marsh with a camera, and found a new professional calling as well. That project, the National Science Foundation funded "In the Grass, On the Reef," spawned the award-winning WFSU Ecology Blog. Now in its tenth year, the Ecology Blog recently wrapped its most ambitious endeavor, the EcoCitizen Project.
Rob is married with two young sons, who make a pretty fantastic adventure squad.