Mazuri® + Endangered Wolf Center: A Passion for Partnership
Nestled in 60-acres of the wooded Mississippi River Valley in eastern Missouri, a devoted group of caretakers are saving wolves and other wild canids from extinction at the Endangered Wolf Center. This unique facility was founded in 1971 by noted biologist, and television host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Marlin Perkins, along with his wife Carol and other concerned individuals.
A wide variety of canids, including Mexican wolves, red wolves, maned wolves, swift foxes, African painted dogs, and fennec foxes call the Endangered Wolf Center home. “It’s a beautiful, natural space,” says Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation with the Endangered Wolf Center. “The animals are in enclosures that are large enough to allow them to be their natural selves.”
Feeding a nutritionally sound diet
Central to the effort is the center’s ability to meet the animals’ nutritional needs. That’s where a 40-year partnership with Mazuri® comes in.
From the center’s earliest days, Mazuri® has donated feed for the wolves. They are fed Mazuri® Exotic Canine Diet, and are also supplemented with fresh deer when available, courtesy of the Missouri Department of Transportation and local hunters, and small game that Mossotti defines as “anything silly enough to wander into their enclosure.”
But the partnership is anything but one-sided. Mazuri® Exotic Canine Diet was developed at the center, using the resident wolves in live feeding trials.
Wolves are picky eaters. Not only should the feed be palatable, the particle size must also be right
The feed must also be nutritionally sound. “On all points used to gauge healthfulness, Mazuri® Exotic Canine Diet passes the test with flying colors,” says Mossotti, a reality that would likely not be so without the center’s willingness to help develop the product in a managed-care environment that strives to be as close to normal wild conditions as possible.
Learning from wild diets
These wolves are not domesticated and their digestive systems aren’t domesticated either.There are seasonal differences in diet, with wolves eating protein in the form of small animals in the spring, and more fibrous berries in the summer, while their winter diet is scant. Likewise, animal age can be a factor, with pregnant females and young pups needing more protein. Older animals may have higher nutrient requirements as their systems fail to absorb vitamins and minerals.
Through Mazuri’s work with the center, we know what they eat in the wild and we can develop products that bridge the gap.
Mossotti says Mazuri® has been an important factor in the Center’s work to save the two most endangered wolves in the world – the Mexican and the red wolves. Both are listed as severely endangered with less than 100 animals in the wild. “The neat thing is that Mazuri® has been able to help the center save them,” says Mossotti. “We couldn’t do it without their support and a wonderful diet that helps keep our breeding animals healthy.”
The center emphasizes a multigenerational approach to breeding and raising wolves. Unlike many efforts that take pups from the pack shortly after weaning, the Endangered Wolf Center leaves them for another generation, allowing older siblings to learn parenting by helping care for the young. The method is key to the center’s successful survival rate of wolves which are ultimately released into the wild.
Partnering today for a better tomorrow
The effort to save the rare maned wolf, an omnivore, presents unique challenges. Adjustment outside their native Brazilian habitat is precarious, at best, and managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP). Using the wolves at the Endangered Wolf Center, Mazuri® is working with the Maned Wolf SSP to develop a more refined formula to meet their needs. This is something that Mazuri® nutritionists and the center are doing collaboratively.
To learn more about the Endangered Wolf Center, visit endangeredwolfcenter.org.