The Trevor Zoo is expanding its commitment to keep and care for endangered Red wolves. As the only AZA-accredited facility operated by a private high school, the zoo is uniquely positioned to involve Millbrook students with hands-on participation that can initiate a lifetime of awareness and conservation.
Red wolves have had a home across School Road since 1993 when they replaced Maned wolves at the zoo. Four litters of Red wolves have since been born at the zoo including Clifford, a current resident, who shares space with Shy, an elderly female wolf. The Trevor Zoo is an important part of the national plan to gradually reintroduce Red wolves to their natural habitat, which originally extended from the Gulf Coast through the northeastern United States. Several years ago, Red wolves were captured and relocated to a preserve in North Carolina where they were protected and encouraged to breed. While this reintroduction was successful at first, many of the new "wild" population, which was at one point over 100 wolves, were killed by cars or shot by farmers. Thus, the AZA has given Red wolves a SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) species designation, and AZA zoos participating in these breeding programs are ensuring that the Red wolf will not become extinct.
The new Red Wolf Breeding Habitat currently under construction is intended to host a pair of these Red wolves once they can be safely relocated. The new habitat will include 10,000 square feet of outdoor habitat and a small building to provide space for more than one pair of breeding wolves. Millbrook students worked to clear brush and replace fencing, and most of the other labor has been done in-house. The AZA grant requires matching funds for the project, which is expected to cost roughly $36,000. The Trevor Zoo is fundraising but requires additional donations to meet its obligation for half of the funding. If all goes as planned, the Trevor Zoo may be home to more Red wolves by summer 2021.
An expanded habitat and larger Red wolf population will allow for greater participation in research and more opportunities for students to be involved in conservation. Currently, students learn about feeding and caring for the wolves, are on-hand for veterinary check-ups, and have been present for the arrival of new wolf pups. Caring for the wolves and supporting the restoration of the species is an incomparable experience for students and a prime example of the environmental stewardship that is part of the Millbrook mission.