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Mama was 15 years old.

On Monday, we made the compassionate decision to euthanize Mama, our older female red wolf, due to a decline in quality of life.

Mama turned 15 on April 18. An exam and necropsy revealed numerous abnormalities including spinal degeneration, two lung masses, irregular kidneys and cystic ovaries.

Mama arrived in 2007 and played a crucial role in the conservation of her species, which is critically endangered. She gave birth to two litters—one each in 2007 and 2008—in the hopes that her offspring would be introduced to their natural range. To preserve their wild instincts as much as possible, keepers were very hands-off with our wolf pack; this led to their notorious shyness around Zoo guests and staff.

To make way for the Florida black bear habitat, the wolves were relocated to a behind-the-scenes area last year. This was a win for both species as the wolves thrived with increased privacy, and we can now take in rescued bears who would otherwise be euthanized.

Mama lived at the Zoo with her 10-year-old daughter. Because wolves are highly social animals, we are relocating this younger wolf to a new home where she will live with other members of her species.

We will miss our “mama” red wolf and ask that you keep our Wild Florida keepers in your thoughts during this difficult time.