Asheboro, N.C. – The North Carolina Zoo sadly announces it recently lost two critically endangered American red wolf pups. The pups, Hurricane and Typhoon (Ty), were part of a pack of five born Sunday, April 15, at the Zoo under the American Red Wolf Recovery Program. The Zoo has been part of American Red Wolf Recovery Program since 1994.

On Tuesday, May 29, zookeepers discovered two pups had received traumatic injuries. Zoo and veterinarian staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize them based on quality of life factors. Staff determined the father caused the injuries, but the cause of this parental aggression is unknown.

“Red wolves are wild animals–their behaviors cannot always be predicted,” said Chris Lasher, Animal Management Supervisor at the Zoo and Species Survival Plan Coordinator for the American Red Wolf. “Even though this pair have had pups in the past and we had observed good parenting skills from both mom and dad with this litter, the father wolf caused traumatic injuries to two of the pups.”

Lasher said staff took as many precautions as possible.

“One of the reasons that these pups are being raised in a quiet, off-viewing area is to try and prevent this type of incident,” Lasher said. “But even with these precautions, we are not always successful in preventing these types of losses that are known to occur in both the wild settings and for wolves under human care.”

Veterinary staff members are conducting pathology tests to determine the health status of the pups at the time of death. North Carolina Zoo Director Pat Simmons describes the deaths as a tough loss for the Zoo and for red wolf advocates everywhere. The entire staff is heartbroken by the loss.

"The North Carolina Zoo is deeply committed to red wolf conservation,” said Roger Sweeney, general curator for the Zoo. “While a setback like this is difficult for our team to experience, the three remaining pups represent an important step forward for the species. We remain focused on fighting to preserve a place for this iconic American species.”

The remaining pups, Thor, Thunder and Oklahoma (Oakley), remain healthy and active and are continuing to be monitored daily. They are the offspring of Ayita (female), who is also healthy and active, and Finnick (male), both six years old. Finnick was relocated to give the remaining puppies the best chance of survival. The loss brings the Zoo’s pack to 21.

The American red wolves are part of the Zoo’s breeding program with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Saving Species from Extinction or SAFE. The wolves are in a large, behind-the-scenes breeding area within the Zoo’s 2,600 acres and have minimal contact with humans. Zookeepers check on them daily to monitor their general health and well-being.

Once common throughout the southeastern United States, American red wolves are the most endangered canid in the world.

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 its American 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

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.


NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919- 807-7300 or visit