The Smithsonian's National Zoo is mourning the loss of a 16-year-old female maned wolf named Diamantina, who died March 8. A final pathology report will provide more information in the coming weeks.
The median life expectancy of a wild maned wolf is usually about 13 years; for a zoo wolf, that number can be 16 years. Maned wolves inhabit the grasslands and scrub forests of central South America. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies this species as near threatened due to habitat loss and motor vehicle strikes.
Diamantina arrived at the National Zoo's Cheetah Conservation Station in October 2009 from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. Most zoo animals participate in a breeding program called the Species Survival Plan. The SSP scientists determine which animals to breed by considering their genetic makeup, nutritional and social needs, temperament and overall health. Rather than breed, Diamantina served as a non-breeding companion for Siete, the Zoo's 10-year-old male maned wolf. She also acted as an educational ambassador for her species, illustrating the social nature and behavior of maned wolves to scientists, keepers and Zoo visitors. Smithsonian's National Zoo visitors can see Siete on exhibit at the Cheetah Conservation Station.