© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Litter of endangered wolves born at Wolf Sanctuary

By Julie Bierach, KWMU

SAINT LOUIS, MO – The Wolf Sanctuary in Eureka is celebrating the birth of a litter of endangered wolf puppies early last month. It's the first time a litter has been born as the result of a procedure to induce ovulation in an endangered canid.

Researchers used a hormone treatment called an Ovuplant to induce the ovulation process in a Mexican gray wolf named Anna.

Wolves only come into estrous, or breeding condition, once a year.

Dr. Susan Lindsey, executive director of the Wild Canid Center, says as part of the project, Anna, ovulated early and bred naturally with her mate.

"What we'll use that procedure for later is, rather than try to predict when the wolf is naturally going into estrous, we can make them go into estrous at a time most opportune for artificial insemination," said Lindsey.

Lindsey says the ultimate goal is to induce ovulation for timed artificial insemination and to increase the genetic diversity of the wolves.

"We won't have to interrupt natural bonding to change genetics of the pups that are produced, we can do artificial insemination," said Lindsey. "But even more so we can use that which we have already put in the semen bank for animals that have died but have produced offspring perhaps that have been very successful during the release."

The endangered Mexican gray wolf was reintroduced back into the wild in Arizona in 1998. All packs in the wild today trace their roots to the Wolf Sanctuary.

The Wolf Sanctuary worked with the Saint Louis Zoo on the procedure.