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Mexican Wolf

Scientific Name:
Canis lupus baileyi


Reintroduction effort underway in Arizona and New Mexico.

Oak woodland, pine/oak woodland or pine forest with adjacent grassland within mountainous terrain.

(Carnivore) wild deer, pronghorn, javelina, small mammals. At the Zoo - red meat

Up to 6 feet in length including tail.

Adults weigh 50-90 lbs (23-41 kg). Females are smaller than males.

Mating takes place in February and March. Gestation is 63 days and litters contain 4-7 pups.

8-18 years.

General Description:
Red-yellow or yellow-gray with black patches on back and sides and white on the chest and abdomen.

All United States' Mexican wolves are owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wolves raised in captivity are being released in Arizona and New Mexico to repopulate parts of the wolves' historic range.

Wolves live in packs, generally consisting of the breeding pair and their offspring from one or more years. Generally only the dominant pair mate and dominance hierarchies may exist for both sexes. Prey that is young, aged or weak make up most of the kills by the pack, thereby helping to keep the ecosystem in balance. Wolves tend to gorge themselves at a kill with large animals consuming about 20 lbs (9 kg) in one feeding, utilizing almost every part of a carcass, including most of the fur and bones. Average consumption is about 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) daily. Individual wolves may only kill every 18 days. If wild prey is plentiful, wolves do not generally attack domestic livestock. Wolves howl to communicate with pack members and other wolf packs. Communication is also achieved by scent marking and facial and body posturing. Territories are marked with urine and droppings.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service includes the following information on their Wolf Fact Sheet concerning aggression towards humans: "Aggressive behavior from wild wolves towards humans is extremely rare. Mark McNay of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game compiled information about documented wolf-human encounters in \"A Case History of Wolf-Human Encounters in Alaska and Canada." There are 59,000 to 70,000 gray wolves in Alaska and Canada, and since 1970 there were 16 cases of nonrabid wolves biting people. Six of those cases were severe. Since that report was written, wolves may have killed a person in Saskatchewan, Canada. However, an official report has not yet been released, and a bear or a pack of wild dogs may instead have been the cause. It appears to have been a situation where wolves, wild dogs, or a bear became habituated to people, possibly by being fed or attracted to garbage at a dump. In comparison, nearly a dozen humans are killed by domestic dogs, pet wolves, and pet wolf-dog hybrids every year in North America. Wolves and wolf-dog hybrids kept as pets can be unpredictable and dangerous. Wild wolves generally are shy of people and avoid contact with them whenever possible."

Did you know? Wolves were hunted almost to extinction because they were a threat to livestock. Mexican wolves are an SSP species and their captive breeding is controlled by the Mexican Wolf Captive Management Committee. As of May 18, 2011 the Zoo had two sibling female wolves born at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio on May 5, 2002.

Where can you find them? Eastern Arizona and Western New Mexico.

Learn more on the Visit El Paso Blog

Learn more about Mexican Wolves in the Wild

Watch a video from the Wolf Conservation Center


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El Paso's Zoo Mission
Our mission is to celebrate the value of animals and natural resources and to create opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature.