Two of the four maned wolf pups born Jan. 5, 2012, at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, are in need of names and for the first time the Smithsonian's National Zoo is turning to Facebook to find the most fitting monikers. Starting Monday, March 26, Facebook users can vote for a name for the female and the male pups through a poll on the Zoo's Facebook page. Animal care staff recommended the eight options in an attempt to reflect the animals' personalities, natural history and range.
The names to select from for the male pup are:
- Canastra (Brazilian region that is part of maned wolf habitat)
- Cerrado (Brazilian region that is part of maned wolf habitat)
- Rocko (nickname of maned wolf researcher's father)
- Timido (Portuguese for coy)
The possible names for the female pup are:
- Bela (Portuguese for beautiful)
- Estrella (Portuguese for star)
- Pinga (Portuguese slang for a national drink)
- Terra (Portuguese for earth)
Voting will close at noon Friday, March 30, and the Zoo will announce the winning names on Facebook that afternoon.
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.
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.
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 at a Smithsonian facility in Front Royal, Virginia, 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.