Three (adorable) red wolf pups who had escaped from their enclosure at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science have been "safely recaptured and reintroduced the red wolf pups with their parents," the museum said in a statement this morning.
Four of the seven-week-old pups, who were born at the museum, escaped their enclosure early Monday. One, a female, has not been captured but is inside the perimeter fence around the wolves' habitat.
Courtney Cawley via Museum of Life and Science
An endangered red wolf pup born at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in April.
"Ongoing recapture efforts include offering extra food and water where the pups have been spotted and humane traps specially designed for live capture have also been placed onsite. Observation teams will continue to be deployed—and there is high confidence that the pup will soon be returned to her parents," the statement says.
The pups who were reintroduced to the enclosure were given a health check and found to have no injuries. They were given fluids as a precaution against dehydration. A wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Program is coming in this afternoon to help find the final red wolf.
"We continue to remain hopeful for the best outcome possible—that the remaining female pup will seek out her parents and we will be able to reunite her as quickly, and safely, as possible" said Leslie Pepple, Museum of Life and Science's Communications Manager. "We are doing all we can to minimize risk for her while she is outside her enclosure and appreciate the support the community continues to show us during this time."
It's believed the pups got out through a space in the enclosure gate or fence, but staff members didn't see the escape. Parts of the museum's outdoor area, including the Dinosaur Trail, Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, and the Ellerbee Creek Railway, are closed while the search continues.
"The red wolf pups do not pose any danger to the general public. Red wolves are notoriously shy and will largely avoid large crowds, loud noises, and human contact," the statement says. " … In the unlikely event that visitors spot the remaining pup, Museum officials ask the public not to approach the pup but to contact a staff member and report time and location."
Red wolves are considered critically endangered
; there are about three hundred living in the wild and in captivity. The six red wolf pups born at the museum in April were the first born there since 2002. Two died in May.
Update: the museum announced this afternoon that it had recaptured the fourth pup.