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Oral Health Is Key to Endangered Wolves’ Survival

The endangered red wolf, a unique species native only to the United States, is making a slow but hopeful comeback, thanks to a carefully managed breeding and reintroduction program that includes special attention to the wolves’ dental health. The Tacoma, Washington-based Point Defiance Zoo, actively participating in the program, conducts dental exams and prophylaxes for these red wolves. Maintaining their teeth is crucial because broken teeth can hinder their ability to eat meat effectively. With a population of only around 270 red wolves, most of which are in managed care or zoos, and a mere 20 remaining in the wild, this effort is vital. During a recent checkup on a 9-year-old wolf known as 2077, sedation allowed for a thorough dental examination, X-rays, and the removal of a diseased molar. The veterinarians also administered vaccines and conducted blood tests to assess overall health. Red wolves once roamed from New York to Texas, but by the late 1960s and 1970s, their numbers had drastically declined. In 1967, the US Fish & Wildlife Service classified them as threatened with extinction. Click here to read more.

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