Stacia Glenn The News Tribune
Eight red wolf pups were born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium last weekend, an important advancement for the critically endangered species.
Mom Charlotte is nursing her pups in their den, which cannot be seen by the public.
Zookeepers are monitoring the new family via cameras.
Dad Hyde keeps checking on his family, but Charlotte has not yet allowed him to get close to his offspring.
“They have no idea how important they are,” said staff biologist Jenn Donovan. “These pups are the future of their critically endangered species. But for now, they’re just busy being adorable.”
Zookeepers briefly checked out the pups by luring mama wolf out of the den with meatballs.
There are believed to be three males and five females. A ninth pup did not survive.
Their weights range from about 11 to 13 ounces. By comparison, a can of Pepsi weighs 12 ounces.
This is the second litter of red wolves born in Tacoma in the last seven years.
Zookeepers said it will be at least a month before the newborns venture out of the den.
In the meantime, staff are coming up with names which will be given in a social media survey so the public can weigh in.
Red wolves are one of the most threatened species of wolf.
By the 1970s, only 14 remained. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the red wolf extinct in the wild in 1980.
Today, about 40 roam the Red Wolf Recovery Area in North Carolina.
In the U.S., 42 zoos and wildlife centers participate in a breeding and recovery program with about 261 wolves, including 35 pups born so far this breeding season.