The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is mourning the loss of a 12-year-old female maned wolf named Salina, who died April 18. A histopathology report will provide more information in the coming weeks, though a necropsy revealed a large mass within her abdomen. The median life expectancy of a wild maned wolf is usually about 13 years; for a zoo wolf, that number can be 16 years.
Salina arrived at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in September 2009 from the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Fl. Most zoo animals participate in a breeding program called the Species Survival Plan. The SSP scientists determine which animals breed by considering their genetic makeup, nutritional and social needs, temperament and overall health. Salina participated in the Maned Wolf Species Survival Plan, and birthed four cubs—2 males and 2 females—in January 2012. She also served as an educational ambassador for her species, illustrating the nature and behavior of maned wolves to SCBI scientists. Seventy-two maned wolf pups have been born at SCBI-FR since 1975, and the facility currently houses 10 wolves. The National Zoo has two maned wolves on exhibit at its Cheetah Conservation Station.
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.