ASHEBORO, NC -- The staff of the North Carolina Zoo is seeing a lot of “red” these days, as they welcomed a trio of rare red wolf pups born April 18, 2017 at the 500-acre conservation park.

The trio was born to Raydar and Haley, the same two red wolves that had a single pup at the North Carolina Zoo on May 3, 2016. This marked the first litter of 2017 in the North American population of red wolves born in human care. 

There are currently 19 red wolves at the North Carolina Zoo; two red wolves are visible to guests in the park and the rest live off-site as part of the Zoo’s breeding program. The newborn wolves will remain in the off-site area.

One of the most endangered canids in the world, the red wolf lives mostly in eastern North Carolina. Once common throughout the southeastern United States, the species was driven near extinction during the late 1960s. Soon after, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began an aggressive conservation project, the Red Wolf Recovery Program, which led to new ways to track and protect the species.

Today, the population of red wolves in the wild is estimated between 20 to 40, with another 200 red wolves in captive breeding sites across the country as part of the USFWS Species Survival Plan.