Something very exciting happened last month at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Paignton, Devon, England! Three endangered South American Maned Wolf cubs were discovered to have been born! It’s believed the pups are about 4 weeks old and were just now discovered because the parents’ instincts were to keep the pups hidden to protect them from danger.
Also known as “fox on stilts” because of the red coloring on their fur and their long legs, the adorable pups are the first to be born at the Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in 7 years as part of the European Endangered Species Program. The pups are also the first litter for mother, Milla, and father, Tolock. Milla was born in Sweden in 2012 and Tolock in 2014 in Poland.
Neil Bemment, Curator of Mammals at the zoo, said, “Judging by the parents’ change in behavior, the pups were born on February 23. Being carnivores we left them undisturbed to get on with it. The pups were not seen by the keepers for four weeks. Our maned wolves are quite elusive, but with patience can usually be seen mid-afternoon. There will be a much better chance of seeing one now there are five and especially when the pups become more mobile.”
Maned wolves are very shy and run away when frightened. “In fact,” Bemment went on to say, “you are more likely to smell them than see them. Their urine, which they use to communicate, has a very distinctive smell.” When threatened, the wolves puff up their manes in order to appear larger.
But, even though they may resemble a fox, the animals are neither fox nor wolf! The Maned Wolf is the only species of the genus Chrysocyon brachyurus. Experts believe that the Maned Wolf developed such long legs in order to see above the tall grass of their habitat.
Found in swamps, grasslands and scrub forests, the Mane Wolf is the largest canid in South America. Its diet consists mainly of small mammals, reptiles and birds, but they will also eat fruits and vegetables. They became endangered due to habitat destruction and hunting. Besides the European Endangered Species Program’s efforts to increase the number of maned wolves, these beautiful animals are also protected by law in Brazil and Argentina.