Two of the World’s Rarest Wolves to Make a Home in Colorado

by Caitlin Berard

The United States is home to a diverse and fascinating animal population. With its many National Parks and protected areas, the U.S. houses more than 400 species of mammals, 800 species of birds, 100,000 species of insects, 300 species of reptiles, close to 300 species of amphibians, and over 1,100 species of fish. Many of these species are also endemic, meaning they can only be found in American lands and waters.

Sadly, however, more than 1,300 of these animals are endangered or threatened. Beloved creatures such as the Florida manatee, loggerhead sea turtle, and California condor are at risk of disappearing from the world altogether. And the most endangered of all U.S. animals is the red wolf.

Once common in the eastern and central regions of the United States, there are now less than 20 red wolves left in the world. Because of this, conservation efforts have been in the works since the early ’70s, the latest of which saw two red wolves finding a new home in Colorado.

The wolves, named Van Gogh and Shawnee, arrived at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center late Tuesday night. They were then released into their enclosure on Wednesday morning (September 21).

Colorado Wildlife Center Celebrates Arrival of Red Wolves

Both Van Gogh and Shawnee were part of the red wolf breeding program at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas. Both wolves are now 10 years old, however, and will be enjoying retirement in their new Colorado home.

Ahead of their arrival, the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center celebrated the new addition by sharing a few facts about the gorgeous red wolf.

“The rarest wolf in the world is the American Red wolf (Canis rufus),” they wrote on an Instagram post. “And a pair will be settling into their new home at CWWC on September 21st, 2022.”

“Van Gogh and Shawnee are part of the SAFE program (Saving Animals From Extinction),” they continued. “This is exciting news for more than one reason! Red wolves are native to the United States and have never been found anywhere else!”

According to CWWC, wild red wolf populations “have declined more than 85% in the last decade.” The CWWC is also the first and only wildlife facility in Colorado to house them. The few remaining red wolves are typically kept safe within conservation centers in the southeast.

“They play a vital and unique role in their ecosystems,” the CWWC explained. “And [they are] one of only two recognized species of wolf in North America.”

“CWWC has an incredible opportunity to educate the public on this unsung species. In doing so, it is our hope more people will get involved in our mission to ensure they thrive in the wild by expanding their population in size and range.”