Back off Liam Neeson, these wolves are too cute to fight. This week, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., posted photos of some new maned wolf pups, and they are “Awww”-inducing.
The pups were born on Jan. 5, and as the first litter born at the Institute in two years, they will “play an important role in helping researchers maintain a viable, self-sustaining population,” said their press announcement.
SCBI research biologist Nucharin Songsasen continues, “Every pup born here helps us understand more about the biology of this incredible species.” According to their release, “Maned wolf pups have a 50 percent mortality rate in the first month, so keepers are monitoring them closely.”
Maned wolves are native to central and southeastern Brazil, Paraguay, eastern Bolivia and northern Argentina. They’re not yet on the endangered species list, however, they are considered “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as they need wide, uninterrupted spaces.
Currently, there are approximatly 20,000 left in the wild. Aside from habitat destruction, maned wolves are killed for their body parts, which some people believe to have magical properties,” according to the website of the Smithsonian National Zoo. More