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Published October 17, 2017

Celebrate Local Red Wolves!

It’s time to celebrate Wolf Awareness Week! This year, it runs through Saturday, October 21. It is observed during the third week in October throughout the United States.

According to Defenders of Wildlife, this week is “a time we set aside… to celebrate these important animals, highlight the threats to their survival, and spread the word about… how to help humans learn to live alongside them.”

The Museum of Life and Science, located in Durham, NC, is offering special events for Wolf Awareness Week.

Currently, the museum is home to a family of six red wolves, an endangered species. Animal keepers present information and souvenirs at 2 p.m. each day to museum-goers, with paid admission.

I attended this event on Sunday. After trekking to the Explore the Wild section of the museum’s park, I was thrilled to encounter the wolves in their habitat.

During the Meet the Keeper program, I learned about the history of red wolves. The staff also spoke about wolves’ role in cultivating biodiversity, and actions we can take to assist with conservation efforts.

The red wolf (Canis rufus) is a smaller cousin of the more well-known gray wolf. Formerly, red wolves ranged mostly throughout the southeastern U.S., from Pennsylvania to Florida.

The red wolf was labeled an endangered species in 1967, according to They almost became extinct, due to hunting and predator control programs. In 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service organized a captive breeding program.

Today, approximately 200 red wolves live in facilities like the Durham museum’s habitat. However, fewer than 50 red wolves remain in the wild.

These “wild” red wolves roam a natural habitat in eastern North Carolina. The facility is named Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, according to Wolf Haven International.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the Red Wolf Recovery Program. According to, the program “is feasible with significant changes that must be implemented to secure the captive and wild populations” of red wolves.

The Museum of Life and Science currently houses a male and female plus six pups. Born in late April, the pups are almost full-grown. It was hard to distinguish between them all, since they were mostly running around and then lying on the ground while I was watching. Also, their fur acts as camouflage in the woods.

The red wolf family in Durham is relocating on November 6. Affiliated with the Red Wolf Species Survival Program, these wolves will move to the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York. They will roam a habitat larger than an acre.

After moving to New York, the red wolf family will be available for public view only through group tours, according to animal keepers at the Durham museum.

So go and see our local red wolves while you still have a chance. Believe me, they are beautiful creatures!

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  • Ginny Gillikin


  • I have a journalism degree and an English minor from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. I am a staff writer for I enjoy music, books, photography, hiking and travel. Previous jobs include positions at Deep South Entertainment in Raleigh and ReverbNation in Durham. All my articles.

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