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Illinois-born Mexican gray wolf puppies released in Arizona for project

Brooke, a 5-day-old Mexican gray wolf born at Brookfield Zoo, is examined by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service veterinarian in Arizona. The pup, along with her brother, Blaze, will be placed in the Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves, which will foster them with its own litter. The program is a multi-agency collaboration between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums of which , the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the USDA Forest Service, and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—Wildlife Services, as well as private organizations. (Photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

PHOENIX — Two Mexican Gray Wolf puppies born in a Chicago-area zoo have been released in the Arizona wild as a part of a conservation project, according to a recent press release.

The puppies were born in a litter of five at Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois in April before being flown to Arizona. There, they were put in a den of wild wolves where puppies had recently been born in hopes of being accepted by the wild animals.

The technique has been proven successful with Mexican Gray Wolves in the past and aims to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population, according to the release.

Bill Zeigler with the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, said the collaboration aims to raise awareness for the highly-endangered species.

“We are extremely proud to be able to contribute to this important conservation effort for the Mexican gray wolf population,” he said in the release. 

Zoo officials said there are only 97 Mexican Gray Wolves in the wild as of December 2015 and efforts need to be made to increase the wild wolf species in general.

This is the second time an effort like this has been made with the help of the zoo.

The other three puppies are housed in a den and are being nurtured by their pack in the zoo. Zoo staff anticipates that they will be visible to guests in a few weeks.

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