The four maned wolf pups born Jan. 5 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., received their first vaccinations Thursday during a routine medical exam. SCBI veterinary technician Lisa Ware worked with animal care staff to perform the exams, insert identification transponders and vaccinate the pups against distemper and panleukopenia. According to Ware, the cubs appear healthy and the litter appears to have two males and two females, though the veterinarians will confirm this when the animals are older and their sex is more obvious. The pups weigh between 4 and 5 pounds.
All of the pups were bright, appeared in good health and are starting to get just a bit feisty, Ware said.
The pups' next vaccinations will be in three weeks. This is the first maned wolf litter born at the National Zoo's Front Royal facility in two years, and it will play an important role in helping researchers maintain a viable, self-sustaining population under human care.
Maned wolves live in central South America. With approximately 20,000 left in the wild, the species is considered near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The species' primary threats include habitat loss and degradation and human conflict. Currently only 20 percent of natural maned wolf habitat remains, and only 5 percent of that habitat is protected. The National Zoo has two maned wolves on exhibit at its Cheetah Conservation Station.
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute plays a key role in the Smithsonian's global efforts to understand and conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. Headquartered in Front Royal, Va., SCBI facilitates and promotes research programs based at Front Royal, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide.
Photo by Nucharin Songsasen, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute