Animal Facts
    Common Name:
    Red Wolf
    Scientific Name:
    Canis rufus
    • Lifelong mated pair and some of their pups make up a pack of around eight individuals.
    • Beyond howls, red wolves communicate through scent marking, facial expressions, and body posture.
    • They are "crepuscular" - more active at dawn and dusk.
    2 ft
    60 lb
    4.5 ft
    Life Span:
    6 yrs
    Gestation Period:
    60 days
    Number of Young:
    • Grassland
    • Wetlands
    Fun Facts:
    • Named for the reddish fur behind the ears and along the legs and neck.
    • Much smaller and leaner than gray wolves, and a bit larger than coyotes.
    • Once declared extinct in the wild, through reintroduction efforts they can today be found in the wild in extreme northeastern North Carolina, but only there.
    • Hybridization with coyotes is a great threat to their continued existence.
    • Dwindling Population
    Endangered Status
    Endangered Status
    • Extinct in Wild (EW)
    • Critically Endangered (CR)
    • Endangered (EN)
    • Vulnerable (VU)
    • Near Threatened (NT)
    • Least Concern (LC)
    • Not Evaluated (NE)

    North Carolina Zoo fills a central role in efforts to save the American red wolf from extinction. Once the southeastern United States’ apex predator, red wolf populations have declined so dramatically that the species now depends on captive breeding to maintain a healthy, genetically viable population. By housing the second largest pack of breeding red wolves in the world, the Zoo are helping to ensure the survival of this species. The Zoo also plays a coordinating role in the larger American Red Wolf Recovery Program that includes 43 other institutional partners. This role involves spearheading landowner outreach in eastern North Carolina where the last 20-30 wild red wolves live, and searching for a second recovery area where this iconic species can once again fill its rightful place in the wild. You can read more about the Zoo’s work on red wolves below, under related resources.

    This species is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums SAFEspecies. SAFE seeks to protect threatened and endangered species around the world.

    The North Carolina Zoo provides large, natural areas away from the public eye for the reclusive red wolves to breed. Red wolf mates are paired based on genetics to produce healthy offspring. This managed breeding program is vital to the survival of the species.  

    Saving Species Plan Logo

    This species is cooperatively managed as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan program program. This program is responsible for developing a Breeding and Transfer Plan for each species in the program.