BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- June 19, 2014 - Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is experiencing a baby boom with the birth of four critically endangered Red wolf pups and six Guinea hog piglets, which are not considered endangered. Today, just 100 red wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina, and nearly 200 Red wolves are maintained in captive breeding facilities throughout the United States. Because of this, the birth of four pups - two male and two female - represents a welcome increase in the overall scarce population. On the contrary, Guinea hog piglets are becoming a regular sight at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, with litters being born four of the last five years. The births of the wolf pups and piglets follow on heels of the zoo's April announcement of four North American River otter pups - two males and two females.
"We couldn't be happier with how all of our baby animals are coming along," stated Gregg Dancho, zoo director. "Both the Red wolf mother and father are taking well to parenthood and the pups are just starting to venture out into the Wolf den for short periods of time. Of course, the piglets and otters are always a fan favorite... babies just make it that much more entertaining. We have lots of Kodak moments happening all the time!" Dancho shared.
Six wolf pups were born on May 9, 2014; three males and three females, with one male and one female not surviving. Both mom "Salty" and dad "Moose" are first-time parents and are very attentive. While Salty is denning with her pups, Moose has been frequenting the den opening to check in with his brood. Salty, age six, arrived at Connecticut's only zoo from Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FL, in fall 2013, while Moose, age three, arrived in January 2014. He hails from the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY.
The pups weighed in at 280 grams, approximately nine ounces, at birth. At nearly six weeks old, they have grown to over four pounds each. The breeding season for Red wolves is February/March with a gestation period of approximately 60 days. Pups will open their eyes at 10 - 14 days and venture out of the den at approximately four weeks old.
At six weeks, they become more comfortable spending some time outside the den and they will be weaned between eight and nine weeks. The pups will reside at Connecticut's only zoo through Fall 2014. They are on exhibit next to the Mexican wolves.
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Program (SSP) in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS). The wolf population in captivity is managed by the USFWS and there is the potential to reintroduce some of these pups into their native land in North and South Carolina as they get older.
Seven piglets were born on May 10, with six surviving. The Guinea hog piglets are all female and range in weight from just under one pound to two pounds. Mom is "Olivia" and the father is "Hampton." Both are six years old. Hampton and Olivia produced a litter of six in May 2013. The Zoo's one male and two female Guinea hogs came from Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita and Virginia Zoo respectively. Visitors will find the Guinea hogs in the New England Farmyard.
About Red wolves
According to the USFWS, "Red wolves are mostly brown and buff colored with some black along their backs, often with a reddish color on their ears, head, and legs. Smaller than gray wolves and larger than coyotes, adult red wolves range in weight from about 53 to 84 pounds. Red wolves have tall pointed ears and long, slender legs with large feet. They stand about 26 inches at their shoulder and are about 4 feet long from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. Although their exact diet varies... it usually consists of a combination of white-tailed deer, raccoons, and smaller mammals such as rabbits, rodents and nutria. The red wolf can travel up to 20 miles a day or more to find food, which can be consumed at a rate of two to five pounds daily."
For the most part, Red wolves are night animals and hunt alone or in small packs. These packs have their own social hierarchies that include the alpha male and female and their offspring. They tend to mate for life and both parents engage in raising their pups. Wolves communicate by marking territory with their scent, howling, facial expressions, and body language.
About Guinea hogs
When fully grown, Guinea hogs may reach 100 to 300 pounds. They also are known as Pineywoods Guinea, Acorn eater, Guinea Forest hog, and Yard pig. They are called the "Yard pig" because of their small size and easy maintenance, which makes them the ideal pig for a family raise in a small yard. According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), the hogs were once the most numerous pig breed found on farms in the Southeast but today there are fewer than 200. Guinea hogs are classified as critical, versus endangered, by ALBC and are unique to the United States.
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $14.00, children (ages 3 -11) and senior admission (62 and older) is just $10.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members also are admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge. For more information about Connecticut's only zoo, visit www.beardsleyzoo.org.
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