by Stacey Delikat
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Valley has two new and extremely rare residents.
On Monday two Mexican gray wolves were flown to Scottsdale and taken to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center where they will live and possibly reproduce in the future.
One of the wolves is 6 years old and came from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio, and had reportedly been outcast from her pack.
The other, 14 years old, was flown from the Oklahoma City Zoo after her mate died.
The addition of the two Mexican grays, both females, brings the SWCC’s total population of the rare species to 19, one of the largest collections in the country.
“The Mexican gray wolf is an endangered species, so this is a big deal,” said Linda Moore, assistant director at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.
There are roughly 350 Mexican gray wolves left in the world after the now-endangered species was hunted to near-extinction decades ago. Very few are actually in the wild right now.
Moore accompanied the two wolves on their private flight cross-country.
The flight was furnished by a California woman, Joy Covey, who is a volunteer with the organization LightHawk, a nonprofit environmental group that provides transport for endangered wildlife.
Covey became involved with LightHawk because her young son, Tyler, has a passion for animals.
“This was an opportunity to do something very hands on to help one of the most endangered species in the world,” Covey said.
At SWCC the two new wolves will be paired up with wolves who were already living in the facility.
Moore says the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums may eventually harvest eggs from the wolves in order to preserve their genetic material and use for possible reproduction in the future.
For more information on the Mexican gray wolf visit the SWCC’s website here.