Sunday, August 12, 2012

Remembering Chaco (M185)

Chaco - Mexican Gray Wolf --- April 19, 1995 to August 11, 2012
It’s with a heavy heart that we inform you that Chaco, M185, passed away on Saturday, August 11th. Recently Chaco broke a record, making it to 17 years old, something no other Mexican Gray Wolf had ever done.

Chaco was born at Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo, New Mexico, on April 19, 1995. He was assigned the studbook number of M185. Chaco lived at Alameda until February of 1997 when he was transferred to Living Desert State Park in Carlsbad, New Mexico. He would not be there for long, as he was transferred in December of the same year to the Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth, Texas. Chaco would spend a year in Texas before his last transfer to the California Wolf Center on December 4, 1998.

For the last 14 years Chaco has called the California Wolf Center home. He most likely howled along with every Mexican Gray Wolf the Center has housed. He was around when we had our first litter back in 2000, and he would later be housed with two females from that very litter. He was also here to see the 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2011 litters. He was here when legendary wolves Aspen (F168) and Rio (M166) were retired to the Center after their time out in the wild. And he was with us when we welcomed F667 (born at the California Wolf Center in 2000) along with some members of the Aspen pack (M863 and F1046, wild-born offspring of F667) back to CWC for retirement after several successful years living in the wild.

We now say good bye to a wolf who seems to have had a permanent presence here at CWC. Although he is now gone, its very unlikely he will ever be forgotten. Chaco had an eventful life here at the center, surviving the wildfires that struck in 2002 and 2003 and helping the next generation of wildlife professionals learn more through his role in our Wildlife Handling Course. Chaco was a wolf who loved to live life on his own terms and do things his own way. Even something as simple as his feed hoppers had to be just to Chaco’s liking. He preferred not to stick his head in the hoppers, despite the fact he had used these successfully for years. So he would modify the hoppers, turning them into “dispensers” that conveniently drop kibble onto the ground when shaken or nudged. While we have gone through many, MANY hoppers since Chaco has been with us, it was fascinating to watch him change his environment until everything was just right for him.

This last year we got to watch as Chaco not only enjoyed the company of his long term companion, F668, but also of the 2011 litter born in the enclosure next door. Often times in the evening, Chaco and F668 could be seen sleeping along the fence line closest to the pups. The pups would often whimper over at Chaco when he was walking by. He was 16 when the pups were born, and he would still try to interact and howl along with them.

Chaco may have never bred or been released into the wild, but he was a big part of the California Wolf Center family. For 14 years, he called the California Wolf Center home and now we must say goodbye. The fact that Chaco lived as long as he did and was as healthy as he was till the day he passed away is a true testament to all the hard work that the staff, volunteers and interns put into the care of all the animals at the center. Thank you everyone for doing your part to care for this unforgettable wolf.

California Wolf Center

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