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Thompson Park zoo welcomes nine new gray wolf pups (VIDEO)

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WATERTOWN — A month after delivering their fourth litter, nine pups in all, gray wolves Kenai and Kaja at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park are readjusting to parenting.

The zoo on Monday announced the litter, born April 18. The litter has seven males and two females. Five sport a black coat like their father, the others a more tan shade. In a news release, the zoo said the litter is “healthy and adorable.”

The wolves had not delivered pups in two years. For their past two litters, with nine and seven pups, their oldest daughter, Kaia, served as nanny before the wolf pups moved elsewhere. “Mom’s had it easy,” zookeeper Brenda A. Fisk said.

Scuffling within the wolf pack earlier this year led to moving Kaia and two of her sisters to another facility, leaving a big job for the litter’s mother and father.

Despite showing signs of increased stress with the large litter, like human parents with multiple children, the wolves take good care of their pups, Ms. Fisk said.

The two guard the doorway to the viewing area to prevent them from wandering out. Kenai takes a major guard role in their enclosure, and feeds Kaja during nursing so she doesn’t have to leave her pups.

Though most of the unnamed pups are shy, two of them seem adventurous. Early exploits include walking toward the fence and taking rare sips out of the holding area’s water bucket.

The zoo has no timetable for getting the pups to the exhibit space. Staff said they will do so when the pups are comfortable with their new surroundings.

The zoo’s gray wolf exhibit is part of its much larger Northern Wolf Trail. Zoo officials said breeding programs and other conservation efforts have pumped up the number of gray wolves in the continental 48 states from fewer than 300 in 1974 to closer to 6,000 today.

Video of the new pups can be found at http://wdt.me/wolf-pups.

Wolf pups at Thompson Park zoo
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