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Museum welcomes Red Wolf – Katniss

December 21, 2020

Virginia Living Museum Welcomes “Katniss” New Female American Red Wolf

Museum committed to conservation of endangered species

Newport News, VA (December 21, 2020) –The Virginia Living Museum welcomes an endangered nine-year-old female American Red Wolf named Katniss to their outdoor boardwalk trail. One of the newest non-releasable animals to join the education mission, Katniss is part of a federal Species Survival Plan.

This fall, Katniss arrived at the Virginia Living Museum under the care of Dr. Kelsey Hayden, the Museum’s Lead Veterinarian. Katniss has an extremely curious attitude and loves to roll on and eat fish, her favorite scent and snack. She came from the Wild Canid Survival & Rescue Center in Eureka, Missouri and is known to have an unusual howl, consisting of an irregular high pitch. Katniss was paired with the Museum’s eleven-year-old male red wolf, who was recommended as a companion by the SSP as they are both mature animals uniquely suited for cohabitation.  The pairing will provide the necessary companionship for the pack animals now together in the Red Wolf natural habitat on the Museum’s outdoor trail.

“Wolves are highly social creatures who are capable of forming lifelong relationships and bonds with one another,” says Dr. Hayden, “ This is the only large carnivore with a range found solely in the United States. We are excited to be able to offer a home to Katniss so that she can spend her golden years with us.”

The Virginia Living Museum participates in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) to reintroduce the American Red Wolf into the wild. In colonial times, red wolves ranged throughout the southeast. Today they are the most endangered mammal in North America. The Museum is the closest facility to Alligator River, the only place in the country where red wolves currently live in the wild.

It is believed that there are fewer than thirty (30) American Red Wolf left in northeastern North Carolina. After many years of successful captive breeding efforts, American Red Wolves were nearly self-sustaining in the wild about ten years ago with approximately 120 wolves. Within the last few years, their legal status in North Carolina has been under review by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. In zoos and facilities like the Virginia Living Museum, American Red Wolf numbers are strong, and serve as an assurance population against extinction.

The Red Wolf Species Survival Plan is a cooperative effort between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). They feel confident that stronger legal protections will be reinstated for Red Wolves in the future. Many facilities and groups, including zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Defenders of Wildlife, advocate for the red wolf’s plight and the need to save this important species.

The Museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, I-64, exit 258A. For more information visit thevlm.org or call 757-595-1900. You can also find the Museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The Museum is closed Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, December 24 and 25 and New Years Day, January 1, 2021.

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