Beardsley Zoo celebrates 1st birthday of critically endangered wolf pups

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BRIDGEPORT -

Bridgeport's Beardsley Zoo celebrated the first birthday of its rare maned wolf pups with a party for humans and animals Thursday.

The zoo invited the public to celebrate Goncarlo, Sabana and Guapa with cake, while the wolves enjoyed their own birthday treats.

The birth of the critically endangered wolves a year ago was a big deal for the Beardsley Zoo. Zoo officials say it was first time the South American species was born at the zoo.

Officials say there are only about 4,000 maned wolves in the wild, and that number is dwindling due to hunting and cattle ranching.

"These guys here, while they'll never be re-released to the wild, what they're doing most importantly is they're helping to establish genetics within the captive population," says animal care specialist Greg Westman.

Visitors got a chance to learn about the guests of honor, including crowds of children on their holiday breaks.

"We call them the fox on stilts because they actually look like a fox on stilts," says Beardsley Zoo Executive Director Gregg Dancho. "In reality they're not a wolf at all, they're their own species altogether."

The zoo also honored the service of late board member Julia Wasserman by naming the habitat "The Julia Wasserman Maned Wolf Experience."

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