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Wildlife Park presents Endangered Red Wolf Program January 18

By Susan Strawbridge Posted on January 15, 2018

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park will be highlighting Red wolves               during the month of January. Special events and exhibits are planned on the endangered Red wolves in the park’s Visitor Center and in the Discovery Center.

The Red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of the world’s most endangered canids. Red wolves are native to North America and once ranged throughout the Southeast United States including Florida. The Red wolf was designated as an endangered species in 1967. Due to loss of habitat and human-caused mortalities the Red wolf population nearly vanished when a managed breeding program was started at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in 1973. The goal was to conserve the remaining Red wolves and increase their numbers. As a result of the success of these breeding programs, this species was reintroduced in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina in 1987.

Today an estimated 50 to 75 Red wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina, and nearly 200 Red wolves are maintained in captive breeding facilities throughout the United States.

Red wolves weigh from 45 to 80 pounds, average about five feet in length from nose to tail, and stand roughly 26 inches tall at the shoulder. Red wolves are smaller than Gray wolves but larger than Coyotes. Red wolves are reddish-brown and buff-colored with black along their backs.

Today Red wolves inhabit a five-county area in Northeastern North Carolina.  Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a partner in the Red Wolf Species

Survival Plan Program (SSP).  The Park currently has two Red wolves in a natural habitat along the Wildlife Walk. These wolves are a male named Jester and a female named Rose and are part of the breeding program.

The Park will present a special program on Red wolves on Thursday, January 18, 2018. Mary Ann DeSimone will offer a program on The Endangered Red wolves. The program starts at 1:00 pm in the Florida Room of the Visitor Center located on US 19 will explore the role of the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan Program and how we work with other agencies to help manage the Red wolf population by breeding and re-introducing Red wolves back into the wild. There is no charge to attend this program. Admission does apply for entry into the Wildlife Park. Mary Ann DeSimone has been a local resident for 32 years and has volunteered at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park for 22 years, 20 of those in animal care and doing community outreach programs.

Displays on Red wolves will be on exhibit in the Park’s Visitor Center on US 19 and in the Discovery Center throughout the month. Special activities on this species will also be available all month in the Discovery Center.