A new wolf exhibit that just opened at the Bergen County Zoo is part of a larger red wolf recovery effort to save them. Due to habitat loss, the species is nearly extinct.

One of only two wolf species in North America, there are only 248 red wolves remaining in existence with only nine living in the wild, said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.

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Bergen County officials cutting the ceremonial ribbon in celebration of the new Red Wolf exhibit. From left to right: County Commissioner Chair Steve Tanelli, County Commissioner Germaine Ortiz, Parks Director Jim Koth, County Executive Jim Tedesco, Open Space Trust Fund Member Bill Sheehan, County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, Open Space Trust Fund Member Don Torino. (Photo Credit: Bergen County Zoo)

He said this conservation effort will hopefully educate people in Bergen County and in North Jersey about wolves and help save the species.

This isn't the first time the zoo has taken in animals that have become a challenge in regards to extinction, said Tedesco. But this conservation is extra special because there are only 248 red wolves in existence in America.

The Bergen County Zoo's new 10,000 square foot exhibit is now home to two young brother red wolves, Shane and Rich, thanks to a collaborative partnership with the Wolf Conservation Center in New York.

Red Wolves Shane and Rich hiding in plain site. Photo Credit: Bergen County Zoo

Tedesco said the red wolves roam free in their natural habitat. There is also an observation center where visitors can go in and watch and look for the animals. Videos are also played from an educational standpoint about the red wolf, trying to educate people on protecting them and why it's so important.

The hope is to have Shane and Rich mate in order to boost the growth population of the red wolves. "This brings the wolves right into the backyard of Bergen County," Tedesco said.

Shane and Rich are young wolves. Tedesco said they are very playful and docile. They enjoy running around, and at times, just laying in the grass and relaxing. It's a natural environment for them.

Various activities outside Education Center at the Bergen County Zoo. Photo Caption: Bergen County Zoo

He said he's thrilled the zoo gets to play a part in the conservation and population restoration of one of the most endangered species on the planet. When there is only 248 of one type of animal in the world, he said that's something that the zoo took notice of and felt it was important to help with the conservation and education efforts.

"The goal here is to save them, hopefully we can increase the population, but also educate the general population about the red wolves and why they are so important to the ecosystem," said Tedesco.

According to www.redwolfreview.info, red wolves increase the natural health of the areas they reside. They capture prey, which helps promote the genetic strength and diversity if many different species of flora and fauna. Leftover prey remains can help fertilize soil.

Red Storm Drum & Dance Troop perform for group of Zoo visitors. Photo Credit: Bergen County Zoo

"We want to make sure they stay here and thrive in America", Tedesco said.

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