Seven tiny European wolf pups have been born at Longleat in Wiltshire, to the delight of the park’s keepers. This is the second litter to be born at the Safari Park in the last year and boosts the pack size to 14.
The pups weighed less than half a kilogramme when born, but at a month old are now able to eat small amounts of meat, although won’t be fully weaned until eight to 10 weeks of age.
Protective parents – mum Eliska and dad Jango – have been carefully moving the pups between three separate underground dens in their woodland enclosure and have been extremely attentive.
Wolves live in a highly complex social structure and each knows its place in the pack hierarchy. In the wild, the pack depends on this close cooperation for survival, both in hunting and in raising offspring.
Wild wolves disappeared from most of Western Europe in the 19th century and have been extinct throughout the UK for more than 250 years.
Following a number of reintroduction programmes the wild, the wolf population in Europe is thought to be around 12,000 in over 28 countries, with established packs in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Numbers are also on the rise in parts of France and Germany, and in 2011 wolves were also reported in Belgium and the Netherlands.
For more information on visiting go to www.longleat.co.uk