AboutZoos, Since 2008


Wolver­ine pups born in Swedish zoo

pub­lished 24 April 2013 | mod­i­fied 05 April 2014

Wolverine pups NordenArkFinally on April 5, Nor­dens Ark in Swe­den could show a glimpse of their three wolver­ine pups that were born on Feb­ru­ary 21. After six weeks in the den with their mother they emerged and are now allowed to start explor­ing the world.

Wolver­ines (Gulo gulo) are dif­fi­cult to breed in cap­tiv­ity, which is asso­ci­ated with high infant mor­tal­ity. But at Nor­dens Ark, we have nice large nat­ural enclo­sures and we are try­ing to dis­rupt the life of a wolver­ine as lit­tle as pos­si­ble, says Elin Eriksson-​Byröd, vet­eri­nary assis­tant at Nor­dens Ark.

Wolver­ine Honan choose where in the enclo­sure she wanted to have her pup­pies, and was allowed to move them between dens, just as in the wild. The first month of their life wolver­ine pups are com­pletely depen­dent on their mother. They are expected to become more inde­pen­dent and explore the out­door enclo­sure on their own in early sum­mer. But with a lit­tle luck you can see the female wolver­ine move the pups between dens when you visit the zoo this period.

It is the female’s sec­ond lit­ter and she proved to be an excel­lent mother. For the male wolver­ine, com­ing from Boras zoo, how­ever, it’s the first time. A year ago, Nor­dens Ark and Boras Zoo exchanged their male wolver­ines, which turned out very suc­cess­fully as both males became father of three this year.

Usu­ally born in Feb­ru­ary or March and weaned around mid-​May wolver­ine pups will stay with their mother for about 45 months. At first, they are all white and blind. The eyes are, as in other mam­mals, light blue and turn light brown when they grow up. The coat colour will also change and gets the char­ac­ter­is­tic dark brown color with lots of light brown mark­ings dur­ing adulthood.

This year’s pups are part of the Euro­pean Endan­gered species Pro­gramme (EEP) and will move to other zoos when they get older. To which zoo will be deter­mined by the Nor­dens Ark zool­o­gist who is coor­di­na­tor of the wolver­ine EEP. The coordinator’s role is to pair breed­ing spec­i­mens with suit­able genetic background.

Wolver­ine facts

The wolver­ine is con­sid­ered as Least Con­cerned accord­ing IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species
due to its wide dis­tri­b­u­tion and remain­ing large pop­u­la­tions in North Asia and North Amer­ica. Nev­er­the­less, the Euro­pean Wolver­ine is cur­rently listed as Vul­ner­a­ble.

The wolver­ine is the largest of the mustelid species. It is heav­ily built with short legs and big paws. Eyes and ears are small. The tail is short and bushy.

The wolver­ine is like the wolf sub­ject of count­less myths and leg­ends. They are fero­cious preda­tors that are known to take down prey sev­eral times their own size. Besides car­rion left by wolves they prey upon a wide vari­ety of ani­mals. Large ani­mals like rein­deer are wolverine’s impor­tant win­ter food. After the kill the car­cass is cut up and pieces are stored away for the win­ter, a strat­egy for sur­vival.

The species is pro­tected in Swe­den since 1969, but ille­gal hunt­ing still occurs.

(Source: Nor­dens Ark press release, 05.04.2013, Wikipedia)

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