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Female Gray Wolf Renner Joins Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness

Male Kaska no longer the lone wolf at Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo has welcomed a 3-year-old female gray wolf to the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness. Renner arrived in September from the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy, Minn., where she was born. She joins 9-year-old male gray wolf Kaskapahtew, known as Kaska, who has lived at the Zoo since 2015. His former mate Waziyata died in June.

“We are pleased to welcome Renner to her new home and happy for Kaska to once again have a companion,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “The two are getting along well, and we are optimistic they’ll start a family in the coming year. Family is a critical part of the fabric of wolf society and is important to their well-being.”

Breeding season for gray wolves is late winter. After a two-month gestation, four to six pups are born.

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“The Detroit Zoo is renowned for its animal care and welfare practices and has a beautiful and spacious habitat for wolves. We were delighted to respond to the request for help in finding a suitable companion for Kaska,” said Peggy Callahan, founder and executive director of the Wildlife Science Center, a nonprofit education and research facility with expertise in the care of wolves.

The 2-acre Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness features grassy hills and meadows, native Michigan trees, a flowing stream and pond, dens and elevated rock outcroppings from which the wolves can survey their surroundings. Zoo visitors are able to see the animals from many vantage points around the habitat – including from the historic Log Cabin, which features an observation area with expansive glass viewing windows that allow people to get nose to snout with the wolves.

The DZS will kick off National Wolf Awareness Week with a special celebration at the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness on Sunday, October 20. Through zookeeper talks and hands-on activities, guests can learn fun facts about Kaska and Renner and discover what the DZS is doing to protect and conserve wolves and their wild habitats.

“The DZS is working to ensure the protection of wolves in Michigan,” Carter said. “Wolves are an essential part of healthy ecosystems and are important in our state and other parts of the Great Lakes basin.”

The DZS is an important supporter of the Wolf-Moose Project on Isle Royale, a remote wilderness island and national park in northern Michigan that is home to a population of wolves and moose. This project is the longest continuous study of any predator-prey system in the world. DZS staff have assisted with research on Isle Royale, studying the island’s unique ecology in order to better understand the relationship of wolves and their prey.

The DZS also joined forces with other animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes to oppose the designation of wolves as a game species in Michigan. A victory for these organizations came in 2017 when a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling maintained federal protections for wolves in the Great Lakes region.

The Detroit Zoological Society – a renowned leader in humane education, wildlife conservation, animal welfare and environmental sustainability – operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center.  With an annual regional economic impact of more than $167 million, the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak is one of Michigan’s largest paid family attractions, hosting more than 1.3 million visitors annually.  Its 125 acres of award-winning naturalistic habitats are home to 2,400 animals representing 235 species.  The Belle Isle Nature Center sits on a 5-acre site surrounded by undisturbed forested wetlands on Belle Isle State Park in Detroit.  It provides year-round educational, recreational and environmental conservation opportunities for the community.  For hours, prices, directions and other information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit detroitzoo.org.

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