A 10-year-old Mexican gray wolf, Zephyr, will now call the El Paso Zoo his new home.

The Mexican gray wolf in particular is very special to the El Paso zoo as it was one of the first animals on exhibit when the Zoo was founded back in 1910 and is native to the Chihuahuan desert.

In the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in the care of humans. Because of populations in zoos and other conservation institutions, Mexican grey wolves were reintroduced into the wild in 1998 and are one of the most endangered mammals in North America. Currently, there are 97 Mexican grey wolves in in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in New Mexico and Arizona.

The El Paso Zoo does not plan to breed Zephyr with the two 13-year-old female wolves, Ash and Ivy, although the Zoo remains an important holding facility for non-breeding wolves. The Zoo has contributed to reproductive research, including semen collection and egg vitrification, which could be very promising for the future Mexican gray wolf population. Zoo staff is developing an animal introduction plan so Zephyr can join Ash and Ivy’s pack.