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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – March 5, 2018 – The family at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is saddened to announce the passing of Harper, a 12-year-old male Red wolf, on February 26, 2018. The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary teams had been treating Harper for an aggressive type of cancer with a regimen of medical therapy, but he began to go downhill in the past several weeks. In the days leading up to his death, his animal care team had begun to notice his quality of life was diminishing rapidly due to his illness, and through the Zoo’s Quality of Life protocol, the difficult decision was made to euthanize him.

Born on May 1, 2005, at The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, Harper had resided at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo for three years. He was a beloved member of the Zoo family.

“Harper will be deeply missed by all of us here at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “He had a unique personality and related well both to his companion, Shy, and to his animal care staff. It has been our privilege to have known him since December, 2014.

“Harper’s intensive daily care during his illness is a testament to the dedication of his professional team and to the work of the Zoo’s veterinary staff. Together they made it possible to give him the best care and quality of life,” Dancho added.

The Zoo remains home to two Mexican gray wolves, and one Red wolf, all extremely rare and on the Endangered Species list. The remaining Red wolf is a female, Shy, and has been at the Zoo since November, 2016. Harper and Shy were part of the Species Survival Program (SSP), a breeding and management program designed to preserve the long-term sustainability of captive-based animal populations. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will work with the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA) Species Survival Plan to identify another male Red wolf as a new companion for Shy.

The Mexican gray wolves and Red wolves are two of the rarest mammals in North America. Both species at one time were completely extinct in the wild.

About the Red Wolf

The Red wolf (Canis lupus rufus) is a smaller, more slender cousin of the Mexican gray wolf, also known as the Florida wolf or the Mississippi Valley wolf. At the brink of extinction due to hunting and habitat loss, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rounded up 14 Red wolves to be bred in captivity in 1980. In 1987, the first release took place in North Carolina, with a second release two years later in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo contributed eight Red wolf pups, born in Bridgeport, to the 1987 release program. Fewer than 100 Red wolves currently live in the wild.