There were an estimated 300 red wolves in the United States at the end of April. Now there are 302 after the birth of two pups at the Chattanooga Nature Center.
The pair of pups, born April 29, and mother are doing well, Nature Center officials said.
"We are excited that the Nature Center has been successful in our endeavor to help bring a species back from the brink of extinction," said Dr. Jean Lomino, the center's executive director, in a news release.
Nature Center officials are discussing the newest additions to the facility at a news conference this morning.
The red wolf is one of the world's top ten endangered species.
A litter of three males and two females were born at the Nature Center in 2007, the most recent red wolf births.
Since 1996, the nature center has participated in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, a cooperative population management and conservation program for endangered species at zoos, aquariums and nature centers in North America, according to chattanooganaturecneter.org. The plan was established to build the red wolf population.
"The Species Survival Plan manages the breeding of each species in order to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically stable, self-sustaining population. It focuses the efforts of many different institutions into a single consistent program for conservation through research, education, reintroduction and field efforts," the website notes.
"The birth of these pups proves that the parents are genetically valuable. It makes them being in the top 10 male and female in the country," Gailmard said. "We need them to increase the diversity in the blood line. The were together as a breeding pair last year and did not produce, and they have been with other breeding individuals with no luck. But now, they are proven producers."
There are currently six adult red wolves and two pups at the nature center.
"With only 300 captive and in the wild, there are not many red wolves," she said. "Chattanooga is definitely a key player in helping to change that."
Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.