Critically endangered red wolf litter born in North Carolina wild, inspiring hope for species

The birth of newborn endangered animals is always worth celebrating. Every new arrival is a step towards protecting a vulnerable species from extinction.

Now, wildlife experts are celebrating the new arrival of a litter of endangered red wolf pups in the wild.

On May 10, the Red Wolf Recovery Program announced incredible news: a newborn litter, consisting of three females and two males, arrived the second week of April.

It is the second year in a row that the parents — known as mother 2225 and father 2323 — have produced a litter in Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina.

Because the pair have a “proven ability to care for and nurture a lively bunch of pups,” the Red Wolf Recovery Program placed a foster pup born at Washington’s Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in their care, bringing their litter up to 6 pups.

According to Live Science, that makes 13 individuals in the pack, making the family the largest known red wolf group in the wild.

The organization celebrated the news, calling it “a cause for joy and celebration in 2023.”

“This is extraordinary news for red wolves in the wild. This family group is now a large, fully-functioning pack with these new pups and yearlings,” Ben Prater, director of the Defenders of Wildlife Southeast Program, told World Animal News. “We are so grateful for the FWS biologists that made this happen. We are hopeful this is a sign of things to come in the species recovery.”


The red wolf is the rarest member of the dog family in the world, listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN Red List. The once-populous species was driven nearly to extinction by the 1960s before receiving protection status.

Since the red wolf was listed as an endangered species, there have been efforts to breed the wolves in captivity and reintroduce them to the wild. The species’ numbers peaked in 2006 with 130 wolves. But they faced further setbacks: according to the Washington Post, a state law allowing coyote hunting led to a number of red wolf deaths.

“The red wolf hit rock bottom as a wild species … right as humanity was heading into the depths of the pandemic,” Ron Sutherland, chief scientist at the Wildlands Network, told the Post. “The red wolf was nothing but a ghost of a species at that point, clinging to reality only by virtue of the 200 captive animals scattered in zoos across the country.”


According to the Wolf Conservation Center, as of February 23 there were only 14 remaining in the wild in North Carolina, underscoring what a huge deal this new arrival is.

What incredible news! This newborn litter is inspiring plenty of hope for the critically endnagered red wolf.

Please share this amazing news if you love animals!