The Metro Richmond Zoo is delighted to announce the birth of two Gray wolf pups born to parents Nitka and Voodoo on April 4th Easter morning. These pups are both male and are doing well. This is the first litter of Gray wolves born at the Zoo.
A couple weeks before giving birth, Nitka began digging a den in the ground to create a safe place for her to raise her babies. She selected a spot underneath the roots of a large tree. After a 63 day gestation period, Nitka gave birth inside the 3 foot deep den. One pup is black and the other is brown-gray. The Gray wolf can be gray, white, black, brown, or a mixture of these colors. Nitka is a very caring and nurturing mother, and Voodoo is quite protective of his pups.
Wolf pups are born with their eyes closed and the inability to hear; they need constant supervision at first. In the first few weeks, the babies nurse 4 to 5 times per day. At nine days old, the pups had their first vet checkup. The zoo veterinarian weighed each pup and checked their physical condition. The black pup weighed 3.3 pounds and the brown-gray pup weighed 3.8 pounds. Both babies are healthy and growing quickly.
At two weeks old, the pups opened their eyes. They began to stand, walk, growl, and chew. Soon after, the pups began venturing out of their den to explore. At three weeks old, the pups began to hear.
The Gray wolf is native to North America and can live in a variety of habitats: forest, woodland, grassland, tundra, and arid locations. They are the largest member of the family Canidae. The Gray wolf is known for its legendary howl that can be heard up to seven miles away in wooded areas. They are monogamous, meaning a pair will mate for life. A pack consists of an alpha male and alpha female and their offspring from the previous few years. Pack size can be as few as two and occasionally up to fifteen or more.
The Gray wolf habitat opened in October 2020. Since the wolf pups are now coming out of their den, zoo visitors may catch a glimpse of the wolf babies.