An endangered red wolf pup has been born at the North Carolina Zoo.
The sole pup is the sixth litter of red wolves born at the zoo, but the first since 2010.
Red wolves are the most endangered member of the canid family of animals, which includes dogs and foxes, according to Chris Lasher, the zoo’s animal management supervisor.
"Unlike our domestic dogs, they're not necessarily going to have pups every year," Lasher said. "Because we're kind of forcing the pairs together, sometimes the pairs don't click, so we have to kind of have that magic moment for the pairs to breed successfully."
There are about 50 wild red wolves in Eastern Carolina. Their presence there is part of a nearly 30-year old program to re-introduce the animals that were extinct in the wild. North Carolina is the only state in the country where red wolves are found in the wild.
In recent years, landowners have complained that the red wolves often ventured onto their land. The rapid expanse and breeding with coyotes has also complicated the claim that the red wolves are a distinct species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the program to determine if it will continue.