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Ages 3-11: $10
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Wolf Pack Woods
The range of the maned wolf extends from central Brazil into the northern parts of Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay and into southeastern Peru.
Maned wolves inhabit grasslands, savannah, swampy areas and dry shrub forests. They prefer to live in small patches of forest interspersed with open country.
What Does It Eat?
In the wild: Insects, small mammals, birds, snails, lizards, fish, eggs, frogs, palm nuts as well as grasses and most fruits and vegetables. Unlike other canids over half of their diet is fruit.
At the zoo: Maned wolf chow, chopped fruit, cooked vegetables and chicks or quails.
What Eats It?
The maned wolf is a top predator in its habitat with no known predator, however the young may be threatened by feral or domestic dogs.
Monogamous pairs are the basic unit of the maned wolves’ social organization. The pair share and defend a territory but may not spend much time together. After pups are born, the female is the primary caregiver and may display aggression toward the male. In the wild, the extent of the male’s participation with pups is not known although in captivity males have been observed regurgitating food for the pups. Unlike other large canids, they specialize in hunting small prey and do not hunt cooperatively.
Maned wolves are mature at about one year of age but usually do not breed until they are about two years old. After a gestation of about two months, the female gives birth to one to five pups in a den made in tall grass or thickets. The pups are brownish-gray or black, weigh about 18 ounces (500 gm) and are blind and helpless at birth. They develop the adult coloring and characteristic long legs by the time they are several months old. Females provide milk and later regurgitated food for the growing pups. They are weaned at about 15 weeks. Males may also assist with the care of the young and will regurgitate food for the pups. Life span in the wild is not known for these secretive and nocturnal animals but they can live 12-15 years in captivity.
A Fox on Stilts?
Maned wolves resemble a red fox on stilts. Despite their reddish coloring and general appearance they are not related to foxes and despite their name, they are not members of the wolf family. The maned wolf is a wild dog of South America. Their long legs enable maned wolves to see above the tall grass – an adaptation that helps them hunt for food and avoid predators.
Wolves can raise the long darker fur on their shoulders and neck when they sense danger. The erect mane gives the impression of greater size to intimidate any predator.
Let Me Hear You Bark!
Maned wolves have three main vocalizations – a deep throated single “bark” which is a long range communication sound used after dusk, a growl which is a short distance aggressive vocalization, and a high pitched whine. Because they live in habitats with tall vegetation and hunt mostly at night, it is difficult for them to see other maned wolves. Their vocalizations plus scent marking with urine and feces helps establish and maintain their territory.
The maned wolf’s urine has a strong distinctive smell similar to skunk spray. Like many animals, the maned wolf uses urine to mark the boundaries of its territory. Zoo visitors often smell the strong odor before they can see the maned wolf.
IUCN Status: Near Threatened.
The maned wolf is listed as endangered due to habitat loss for agriculture and ranching. Their survival is also threatened by the destruction of the native fruit trees that are one of their main food sources. Poultry farmers kill the wolves because they sometimes prey on chickens. Humans hunt maned wolves for food and for their body parts which are believed to have magical powers.