TAMPA, Fla. - There are some tiny, new, and adorable arrivals at ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
The zoo announced this week the birth of a litter of red wolf puppies, which the zoo says is the most critically endangered wolf species in the world.
The puppies were born in late April in a den their mother, Yona, dug herself.
The den was dug at a newly designed habitat at the zoo which allows guests to be a part of the experience as the pups grow up and emerge from the den, the zoo says.
The red wolves are native to Florida and once roamed throughout the Southeast, but they're critically endangered because they were hunted by ranchers who feared the wolves would attack livestock.
There are only about 200 red wolves remaining in zoos and they're part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.
“The birth of these red wolf pups represents a significant milestone for this species,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, the Zoo’s Chief Zoological Officer. “The success of this litter is encouraging and represents hope for the future of these incredible animals. Yona is caring for her pups in public view, which shows how comfortable and well cared for she feels.”
This is the first litter red wolves born at the zoo since 1993.