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New maned wolves: Hello, Vinny and Lana

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

The newest residents of the zoo have made their debut! Welcome maned wolves Vincent (Vinny) and his mom, Lana, to the Wildlife Survival Zone.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

After arriving last week, the two maned wolves scoped out their digs in the former cheetah exhibit, which has now been re-contoured to meet their needs. They meticulously investigated every stick, log, berm and napping cave in their grassy exhibit.

Neither a fox nor a wolf, Chrysocyon is a species all its own with stilt-like legs, a pointed muzzle, an impressive red coat and dark mane along the back.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

At home in the grasslands and scrub forest of central South America, these crepuscular canines roam the marshes and woodlands at dawn and dusk in search of fruit, small mammals, birds, eggs and invertebrates. They are particularly fond of a tomato-like fruit called lobeira (nicknamed the wolf apple) as well as bananas, apples and avocados. Incredible adaptations such as superb sense of smell, long legs and keen eyesight assist in hunting and running through tall, thick grasses.

In the wild, maned wolves are shy and primarily solitary, although a breeding pair usually remains monogamous and shares territory. Pups are born in litters of one to five during late summer. The female has help from her mate in grooming and defending the pups, and sometimes the male will help feed them by regurgitation. At about one year, the pups will leave their family to live on their own.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Maned wolves aren’t as vocal as other wild dogs; instead they use their pungent urine as a clear form of communication. A maned wolf can tell a lot by sniffing another’s scent mark. Often used as a means of marking territory, the strong “perfume” can act as a warning to other maned wolves up to a mile away.

While they don’t have many natural predators, maned wolves are vulnerable to domestic dog attacks and diseases that feral dogs might spread. Highways and urban sprawl remain especially dangerous to these animals, since they are often struck by vehicles while hunting at night. In addition, habitat loss and agricultural expansion chip away at habitat and isolate subpopulations.

Our maned wolves are settling in to their new schedule and will get to know visitors. As mother and son, they lived together at the Greensboro Science Center in North Carolina before arriving in Seattle in March. All maned wolves in zoos are owned by the Government of Brazil, so they are technically on loan. Lana, a female born January 9, 2009, weighs 55 lb and her son Vinny, a male born February 6, 2011, weighs 62 lb.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Lana is a bit smaller than Vinny and is the lighter colored of the two; Vinny’s coat is a bit darker and redder.

To see the maned wolves, head to the Wildlife Survival Zone at the southwest end of the zoo (where our visiting cheetahs were housed last summer). The duo will probably be most active in the mornings and afternoons, as mid-day hours will be used for dozing!

See the Maned Wolves at Party for the Planet

Make a day of it when you visit during Party for the Planet, Apr. 11 - 19, our spring break celebration of all things wild. Take part in learning about the planet through fun conservation activities, live musical performances for kids, eco tours, keeper talks and raptor flight demonstrations.

Join a text message scavenger hunt throughout the zoo by texting “planet” to 56512 to get started. Everyone who completes the hunt will automatically be entered for a chance to win a behind-the-scenes encounter for four at the award-winning Humboldt penguin exhibit.

And don’t forget to visit elephants Bamboo and Chai before they head to their new family at Oklahoma City Zoo. Look for special keeper talks at the elephant exhibit on April 11 and 12 to learn more about these amazing animals. Get the full Party for the Planet schedule.


SJSiff said…
I'm so excited about the maned wolves! I read about them in third or fourth grade and have been interested in them ever since. This will be my first chance to see them in person.