NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Living Museum welcomed an endangered 9-year-old female American Red Wolf named Katniss to their outdoor boardwalk trail.

One of the newest non-releasable animals to join Virginia Living Museum’s education mission, Katniss is part of a federal Species Survival Plan.

Katniss arrived this Fall at the Museum under the care of Dr. Kelsey Hayden, the Museum’s Lead Veterinarian. Officials say Katniss has an extremely curious attitude and loves to roll on and eat fish, her favorite scent and snack.

She came from the Wild Canid Survival & Rescue Center in Eureka, Missouri and is known to have an unusual howl, consisting of an irregular high pitch. Katniss was paired with the Museum’s 11-year-old male red wolf. The pairing will provide the necessary companionship for the pack animals now together in the Red Wolf natural habitat on the Museum’s outdoor trail.

“Wolves are highly social creatures who are capable of forming lifelong relationships and bonds with one another,” says Dr. Hayden, “ This is the only large carnivore with a range found solely in the United States. We are excited to be able to offer a home to Katniss so that she can spend her golden years with us.” 

The Virginia Living Museum participates in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) to reintroduce the American Red Wolf into the wild. In colonial times, red wolves ranged throughout the southeast. Today they are the most endangered mammal in North America. The Museum is the closest facility to Alligator River, the only place in the country where red wolves currently live in the wild.

It is believed that there are fewer than thirty (30) American Red Wolf left in northeastern North Carolina. After many years of successful captive breeding efforts, American Red Wolves were nearly self-sustaining in the wild about ten years ago with approximately 120 wolves. In zoos and facilities like the Virginia Living Museum, American Red Wolf numbers are strong, and serve as an assurance population against extinction.