The largest Canid of South America the Maned Wolf has given birth for the first time at Exmoor Zoo. Parents “Sabrina” and “Nephew” have welcomed some “puppy power”, one little puppy has been born (13.04.2023) to two of the smelliest animals in the zoo. Maned wolves are unique! They are not really wolves, but more like a big fox-like dog on stilts (at least a metre tall at the shoulder) that has evolved to live on the Patagonian grasslands of South America! Maned wolves have long legs which is likely to have been down to evolution from the long grassland habitats that they’ve lived in.
Also known as the “skunk wolf”, they have a strong, sweet smell that can often be smelt in the zoo car parks on a hot summer day! Thankfully, their little puppy is used to this. A litter can consist of up to 6 individuals, so our single pup is being well cared for by mum. When first born, like most dogs, they are blind and with dark brown fur for camouflage and at about 10 weeks of age, they get their typical red coat and white-tipped tails begin to appear. Puppy will be reliant on mum's milk for another 3 months, but mum or dad have already begun to regurgitate meals for it in the den.
The Zoo's director, Danny Reynolds, said: “We have been part of the breeding programme for 15+ years. Initially, we just exhibited males, so a female from the breeding programme really got us very excited! Maned wolves typically only breed once a year and within 8 weeks of her arrival from Shepreth Zoo, she had given birth. Maned wolves are a species in decline in the wild. Threatened due to habitat destruction and persecution from farmers, it is a wonderful achievement for all of us at Exmoor Zoo."
The Zoo’s curator, Derek Gibson, mentioned that: “The little pup has been doing great and we are looking forward to watching as he grows into his legs!”
Unlike other dogs, maned wolves have a diet that consists of 50% fruit. A Patagonian fruit called the lobeira, which means "fruit of the wolf", has been named after their penchant for this fruit. Unfortunately, they also adore chicken, which has bought them into conflict with the subsistent farmers of the Patagonian to their detriment. The puppy is just starting to join his parents outside more now (often being carried by mum in her jaws) and hopefully all our visitors with the forecast good weather, will get the chance to see the puppy out this half term and throughout the summer as he grows!
Enjoy a day out in the North-west of Exmoor at Exmoor zoo, one of the “West-country’s hidden gems” on the edge of the National Park. Here you can experience a truly unique rural zoo set into a valley in North Devon. Discover rare and unusual animals seldom found in other zoos like…