About Wolves

There are two widely recognized species of wolves in the world, the gray (Canis lupus) and the red (Canis rufus).  Additionally, there is a little-known canid, which lives in the Ethiopian highlands called Canis simensis that is thought to be a very close relative of the wolf.

Wolves are the largest members of the canid family, with males averaging 95–99 lbs. and females 79–85 lbs.  Average life span in the wild is estimated at 6 to 8 years. This is the species from which our pet dogs were domesticated. Wolves were once the most widely distributed, wild terrestrial mammals. They inhabited most of the available land in the northern hemisphere. Due to the destruction of their habitat and persecution by humans, they now occupy only about two-thirds of their former range worldwide. 

Gray wolves were hunted to near extinction in the lower US 48 states, though some populations survived, and others have since been reintroduced. Few gray wolves survive in Europe, though many live in Alaska, Canada, and Asia. There are five subspecies, or races, of the gray wolf in North America and seven to 12 in Eurasia. The five in North America include:

  • Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos);
  • Northwestern wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis);
  • Great Plains wolf (Canis lupus nubilus);
  • Mexican wolf(Canis lupus baileyi);
  • Eastern timber wolf (Canis lupus lycaon); which is debated by some as a distinct species, the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon). 

Red wolves are only found in a small area of coastal North Carolina, and were designated an endangered species in 1967. They are a North American species of wolf not found elsewhere. Their social and predatory behaviors are the same as gray wolves.







Selected Wolf Articles / Nature's Newsletter

Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program


Bringing back the Mexican gray wolf is an opportunity to bring a natural balance and fully functioning ecosystem back to the wild lands of the Southwest.

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Conversation With a Wolf Biologist


My role in our efforts to foster captive-born pups into wild dens is primarily to coordinate between the captive breeding program and the reintroduction project. Genetically, which captive-born litters are appropriate to consider for fostering efforts. 

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Saving Wild Canid Species


At the Endangered Wolf Center we are immersed in

the real-life example of how zoos are helping to save endangered species and I would love to share with you a recent instance of this work ...

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Mexican Wolf Tribal Youth Conservation Program


A small portion of the Mexican gray wolf population utilizes the White Mountain Apache Tribe Reservation.  Tribal youth participated in an ongoing program to learn and practice work essential to its recovery.

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Saving the Ethiopian Wolf: Guardians of the Roof of Africa


The Ethiopian wolf is a flagship for the conservation of the Afroalpine ecosystems and the services they provide to the Amhara and Oromo people that share the mountains with the wolf. 

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Photographs courtesy of article authors and detailed in each article when you "Read More".