Just in time for Mother’s Day, a critically endangered red wolf gave birth to eight healthy pups — twice as many as expected — at the Point Defiance Zoo over the weekend.
Charlotte, a 4-year-old red wolf, whelped the pups between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, according to the Tacoma zoo. The three males and five females are the second litter born at the zoo in the past seven years. A ninth pup didn’t survive.
“They have no idea how important they are,” Senior Staff Biologist Jeff Donovan said in a news release. “These pups are the future of their critically endangered species. But for now, they’re just busy being adorable.”
The pups weigh about as much as a can of soda and are dark brown, with some having white blazes on their chest, which will help zookeepers tell them apart.
They’re not on public display yet but will start venturing out of the den in about a month, according to the zoo. The zoo will come up with some prospective names and then create a survey for people to weigh in on their favorites.
Fewer than 50 red wolves remain in the wild, and about 200 in captive breeding facilities, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Red wolves used to roam throughout the eastern United States, but now are found only in their North Carolina habitat.
Point Defiance Zoo has played a significant role in keeping the breed from extinction. A litter was born in 2012 to then-8-year-old Millie.