Written By: Andrew Connolly
A patter of footfall. A silent swipe of fur. A soft pant of breath. These are the signs of a wolf moving by, an animal ingrained in our nation’s, and the zoo’s, conservation story. This National Wolf Week, we celebrate all wolves this week, especially the American red wolves and the Mexican wolves that call the zoo their home. When we look around at the world around us, we can find signs of wolves everywhere. They appear on television, as sigils of famous houses for their strength and intelligence. They appear as sporting mascots, known for their speed and coordination. What they are though, are some of nature’s most perfect animals, and an example of nature’s strength, speed, and intelligence.
The American red wolf, a species with less than 20 known individuals, and an estimated 30-40 total wild individuals, is one that can be found here at the zoo. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is a proud participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Saving Animals From Extinction (S.A.F.E.) program, where zoos collectively harness internal and external resources to support species in need. With a limited population, and a limited range, constrained to just a small region in North Carolina, the zoos work to support the population in the AZA system, with reintroductions to the wild a hope for the future. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has helped to release pups reared at the zoo into the wild and have hopes to breed new pups in the future, if residents Taylor and Peanut are a match. So, who are these two special guests?
Peanut and Taylor can be found at the zoo at the Wolf Observation Learning Facility, or W.O.L.F. cabin, providing the perfect location to view them. Peanut is often found lounging near the back of the habitat, or to the left when looking from inside the cabin. A longstanding resident of the zoo, he is often found patrolling his habitat, and has beautiful russet colored fur. Taylor, the newer arrival of the two, was introduced around Valentine’s Day of 2023 to Peanut, with the hopes of the two becoming mates. She often spends her time in the burrow in the center of the habitat and has become more adventurous this fall. The two have been viewed by guests and staff alike interacting with each other and exploring the area around them.
The zoo is also home to three resident Mexican wolves who form a non-breeding pack. The Mexican Wolf, another S.A.F.E. species, can be found in Mexico, as well as Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It faces threats such as habitat fragmentation, poaching, and competition with humans for space and resources.
So, what can you do this National Wolf Week?