DIVIDE, Colo. — A pair of the rarest wolves in the world – with only about 260 total living in the wild and captivity – arrived this week at a sanctuary west of Colorado Springs.
The 10-year-old American red wolves, named Van Gogh and Shawnee, were recently retired from a breeding program to save their species, which is listed as endangered. As of July, there were an estimated 19 to 21 red wolves in the wild and 243 living in captivity as part of the Species Survival Plan.
The pair were coming to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center (CWWC) from the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. The Colorado center is now the only one in the state to house American red wolves.
"CWWC has an incredible opportunity to educate the public on this unsung species," the center said on Facebook. "In doing so, it is our hope more people will get involved in our mission to ensure they thrive in the wild by expanding their population in size and range."
The wild population of American red wolves, which is only found in a small area of coastal North Carolina, has declined more than 85% over the past decade. After peaking at about 120 animals in 2012, the population has plummeted a decade later, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A litter of six pups was confirmed in a North Carolina national wildlife refuge this year, making it the first red wolf litter born in the wild since 2018.
Red wolves live seven to 10 years in the wild, and 12 to 15 years in captivity.
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