Asheboro, NC – The North Carolina Zoo announces the birth of five critically endangered American red wolves as part of its American red wolf breeding program. The five new pups – three females and two males, were born on Sunday, April 15. The pups and their mother are all healthy and doing well. This litter brings the number of red wolves at the Zoo to 24, the second largest pack in the U.S. after Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington.


The pups were born while severe storms including a tornado swept through the Piedmont Triad. Symbolizing perseverance and strength in the wake of this tragedy, four of the rare pups were aptly named Thor, Thunder, Hurricane (Cane) and Typhoon (Ty). The fifth was named Oklahoma, or Oakley, for the Oklahoma-shaped white ‘blaze’ on her chest. Also nicknamed the “Fab Five,” they are the offspring of Ayita (female) and Finnick (male), both six years old. This pair has successfully bred before.


The pups are being kept in a quiet, non-public viewing area of the Zoo and have minimal contact with staff and keepers. This allows their mother to raise the pups with the least amount of stress in a natural habitat.


Once common throughout the southeastern United States, American red wolves are the most endangered canid in the world. The wolves were driven to near extinction during the late 1960s, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began an aggressive conservation effort – the American Red Wolf Recovery Program – that led to new ways to track and protect the species.


The Zoo has been part of the American Red Wolf Recovery Program since 1994. The Zoo’s red wolf pack has bred nine pups over the past three years and has successfully bred 29 wolves since the program began. Currently, there are about 230 (that number can change daily during the whelping season) red wolves in breeding programs throughout the U.S. and an estimated 30 in the wild, found only in eastern North Carolina. Red wolves normally have three to five pups per litter.


The North Carolina Zoo recently led the successful efforts to have the American red wolf become part of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums SAFE (Saving Species From Extinction) program.


Under this program, the North Carolina Zoo will take the lead in conserving the red wolf and growing both the population in the wild and the animals under human care. AZA SAFE Species programs aim to protect endangered species around the world. For more information, visit


To learn more about the North Carolina Zoo and our red wolf program please visit 


About the North Carolina Zoo

At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world’s largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature’s diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature’s diversity. Visit to begin your life-changing journey.


About the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources