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Mexican Wolf Captive Management

Species Survival Plan Captive Facilities

The Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) captive management program is an essential component of Mexican wolf recovery. The SSP was initiated in 1977 to 1980 with the capture of the last remaining Mexican wolves in the wild in Mexico. The SSP is a binational captive breeding program between the U.S. and Mexico whose primary purpose is to raise wolves for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for reintroduction purposes. Specifically, the purpose of the SSP is to re-establish the Mexican wolf in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research. This captive population is the sole source of Mexican wolves available to re-establish the species in the wild and is imperative to the success of the Blue Range Mexican wolf reintroduction project and any additional potential reintroduction areas that may be identified in the future. The SSP has steadily expanded throughout the years and currently houses approximately 300 Mexican wolves in 49 facilities in the United States and Mexico. Mexican wolves are routinely transferred among the zoos and other SSP holding facilities in order to facilitate genetic exchange, thus maintaining the health and genetic diversity of the captive population. The SSP maintains the goal of housing a minimum of 240 wolves in captivity at all times to ensure the security of the species in captivity, while still being able to produce surplus animals for reintroduction.

Mexican wolves from captive SSP facilities that are subsequently identified for potential release are first sent to one of three pre-release facilities (see below) to be evaluated for release suitability and to undergo an acclimation process. All wolves selected for release are genetically redundant to the captive population, meaning their genes are already well represented. This minimizes any adverse effects on the genetic integrity of the remaining captive population, in the event wolves released to the wild do not survive.

Pre-release Captive Facilities

Mexican wolves are acclimated prior to release to the wild in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved facilities designed to house wolves in a manner that fosters wild characteristics and behaviors. These include the Sevilleta and Ladder Ranch Wolf Management Facilities, both of which are located in New Mexico near the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, and Wolf Haven International, located in Tenino, Washington. Wolves at these facilities are managed in a manner that minimizes human contact in order to promote avoidance behavior, and to maximize pair bonding, breeding, pup rearing, and healthy pack structure development. They are then evaluated and selected for release to the wild based on their genetic makeup, reproductive performance, behavior, physical suitability, and their overall response to the adaptation process. The Sevilleta and Ladder facilities have proved very successful in breeding wolves for release purposes, and continue to be an integral part of Mexican wolf recovery efforts.

SSP Captive Facilities

United States

Alameda Park Zoo
Alamogordo, New Mexico

Albuquerque Biological Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Tuscon, Arizona

Binder Park Zoo
Battle Creek, Michigan

California Wolf Center
Julian, California

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Park
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Chicago Zoological Park
Brookfield, Illinois

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Cincinnati, Ohio

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Powell, Ohio

Dakota Zoo
Bismarck, North Dakota

El Paso Zoo
El Paso, Texas

Fort Worth Zoological Park
Fort Worth, Texas

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Glen Rose, Texas

Heritage Park Zoo
Prescott, Arizona

Hillcrest Park Zoo
Clovis, New Mexico

Houston Zoo
Houston, Texas

Living Desert State Park
Carlsbad, New Mexico

Minnesota Zoological Garden
Apple Valley, Minnesota

Navajo Nation Zoological and Botanical Park
Window Rock, Arizona

Oklahoma Zoo
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Phoenix Zoo
Phoenix, Arizona

Sedgwick County Zoo
Wichita, Kansas

Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Washington, District of Columbia

Southwest Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Foundation
Scottsdale, Arizona

The Living Desert
Palm Desert, California

Utica Zoo
Utica, New York

Walter D Stone Memorial Zoo
Stoneham, Massachusetts

Wild Canid Survival and Research Center
Eureka, Missouri

Wildlife Science Center
Forest Lake, Minnesota

Wildlife West Nature Park
Edgewood, New Mexico

Wolf Conservation Center
South Salem, New York


African Safari
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

Centro Ecologico de Sonora
Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

Chapultepec Zoological Park
Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico

Guadalajara Zoo
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

La Michilia Bio Reserve Inst de Ecolog
Durango, Mexico

Pargue Zoological de San Juan de Aragon
Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico

Parque Zoological de Leon
Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico

Pargue Zoologica del Pueblo
Cd Netzahual, Estado de Mexico

Parque Zoologico la Pastoria
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Rancho "Los Encinos"
Cuidad Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico

Rancho La Mesa/Org Vida Silvestre AC
Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

San Cayetano Wildlife Facility
Mexico City, Mexico

Zooligico de Tamatan
Cuidad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Zoologica de Zacango
Toluca, Mexico, Mexico

Zoological de Los Coyotes
Cuidad Mexico, Federal District, Mexico

Pre-release Captive Facilities

Ladder Ranch Wolf Management Facility
Caballo, New Mexico

Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility
Socorro, New Mexico

Wolf Haven International
Tenino, Washington


This webpage was last modified on: Wednesday, May 24, 2006

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