Aug 31
Photo of red wolf panting

Red wolf (Canis rufus)

Species: Red wolf (Canis rufus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: Breeding pairs of red wolves mate for life and usually live in small packs with their offspring, who help rear subsequent litters of pups.

More information:

A smaller relative of the grey wolf, the red wolf is characterised by the reddish colour of its fur, with this colour being most apparent on its neck and legs. The red wolf is most active at dawn and dusk, when it hunts mammals such as rabbits, deer, raccoons and small rodents. It is also reported to feed on carrion. Breeding pairs typically have litters of three to six pups, and all the members of the pack help to rear the young. The red wolf inhabits swamps, forests and wetlands, and was once common throughout the eastern and south-central United States.

The red wolf is one of the rarest canids in the world. Extensive persecution and forest clearance caused a dramatic decline in its population, while hybridisation with the closely related coyote posed a further threat. Despite being designated as an endangered species in 1967, the red wolf became extinct in the wild by 1980. Fortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had already begun efforts to conserve this charismatic predator, and the last few wild individuals had been taken into captivity to start a captive breeding programme. The red wolf has now been reintroduced to a remote part of North Carolina, and as of 2010 the reintroduced population numbered around 130 individuals. The species is fully protected within its current range, but education programmes will be important in maintaining public support for this large carnivore. As a top predator, the red wolf can help control populations of deer, raccoons and small rodents, and therefore plays a vital role in the ecosystems it inhabits.


Find out more about the red wolf at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery Program and the Red Wolf Coalition.

See images and videos of the red wolf on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author

May 19

In an unforgettable television event, Discovery Channel turns the lens toward its homeland and captures a land where life collides with hostile, untamed wilderness in the most diverse, deadly environment on Earth.”

Photo of bison in snow

Bison struggle to survive in the unforgiving winter climate

After more than three years in the making, the Discovery Channel’s eagerly anticipated, seven-part series – ‘North America’ – airs tonight at 9pm ET/PT.

Promising never-before-seen sequences, the first five episodes will tell of the struggle for survival in the continent’s most extreme habitats and weather conditions. Hair-raising head-to-head battles, stunning time lapses, dramatic aerial views and astonishing animal behaviour are all to be expected. The remainder of the series features a ‘making of’ episode, and an exploration of the top natural North American destinations.

Close-up of jaguar

The series will show never-before-seen footage of the elusive desert jaguar in Mexico

The series will explore habitats from the sub-zero Canadian tundra right down to the tropical rainforests of Panama, following up-close-and-personal stories of animals fighting for survival along the way. Discovery promises to bring us the Yukon Territory, Rocky Mountains, barren deserts and lush rainforests.

If you think you know North America, you can think again.

Described as an unforgettable television event, the series will be narrated by award-winning American actor Tom Selleck, who said, “I’ve been a fan of Discovery’s nature programming for years, and I am truly honoured to be narrating their next great series. I think people will be captivated by North America.”

Photo of brown bear catching salmon

Caught on camera: spectacular footage of grizzly bears diving in over 20 feet of water, hunting for salmon

We hope you are as excited about this new series as we are. In depth information on many North American species expected to feature throughout the series can be found here on ARKive.

Sneak previews and an episode guide can be found on Discovery’s North America page.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

May 13

Narrated by American actor Tom Selleck, the Discovery Channel’s captivating new series ‘North America’ is due to air on May 19th, promising spectacular, never-before-seen footage of one of the world’s most diverse landscapes. To show our excitement, we’ve put together a list of our top ten North American species.

1.      Wood frog

Photo of wood frog

Wood frogs are able to freeze and thaw with their surroundings as a way of coping with cold temperatures

This widely distributed frog has a range that extends further north than any other North American amphibian. Often identified by a black mask that extends from the nostrils across each cheek and through each eye, this species is an explosive breeder, laying all its eggs in a matter of days. The wood frog is often found in or around damp woodland.

2.      Brown bear

Photo of brown bear

Brown bears can dive head first to depths of six metres

Just one of North America’s most iconic species, the brown bear is also one of the largest carnivores on Earth. The largest subspecies of this bear is known as the Kodiak bear, and it can weigh up to 780 kilograms! During hibernation, the brown bear can survive for over half a year without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating.

3.      Grey wolf

Photo of grey wolf howling

Grey wolves can track their prey for many miles

The grey wolf has a wide variety of coat colours, ranging from grey, red, brown and black to practically pure white. Its long legs and sensitive ears and nose make it a highly efficient and deadly predator, able to pursue its prey for extremely long distances. The grey wolf is a highly social and intelligent animal, hunting cooperatively to bring down prey that is ten times its size.

4.      Bighorn sheep

Photo of male bighorn sheep

During a fight, male bighorn sheep can launch themselves at each other at 32 kilometres per hour

The spiralling horns of a male bighorn sheep can grow to over a metre long and weigh up to 14 kilograms. Unlike that of most sheep, this species’ coat is made up of fur rather than wool. The nimble-footed bighorn sheep is able to bound between rocks, and up or down almost vertical rock faces, a skill that often enables it to escape predators. Its mating period is known as a rut, during which time males will take part in impressive battles for dominance and the chance to mate with females.

5.      Mountain lion

Photo of female puma with juveniles

Mountain lions are the only big cats able to purr

Also known as the puma, panther or cougar, the mountain lion has the largest range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Active at dawn and dusk, but rarely during the day, this agile species feeds mainly on hoofed mammals such as elk and domestic cattle. Although adult mountain lions are the same colour all over, kittens are born with a spotted coat and blue eyes.

6.      Wolverine

Photo of wolverine

The wolverine’s fur is thick and oily, making it resistant to frost

Despite belonging to the weasel family, the wolverine has an almost bear-like appearance. With a reputation for being a particularly aggressive animal, this species is powerfully built and well adapted to survive in wintery conditions. The wolverine’s coat has two types of fur: soft, dense underhair that helps to insulate its body against the cold, and coarse, long, protective guard hair.

7.      Giant sequoia

Photo of a giant sequoia

The bark of the giant sequoia can be up to 60 centimetres thick

Believed to be the largest living thing on the planet, the giant sequoia tree does not reach maturity and produce any cones for around 20 years. This tree generally benefits from wildfires, which remove competitors and ensure that the soil is rich enough for seed germination. The heat from the fires also causes the tree’s cones to open by drying them out, allowing the seeds to fall and germinate. The giant sequoia is more or less indestructible due to its size and thick bark, which conducts fire poorly.

8.      Moose

Photo of a moose feeding

There is debate as to whether or not the moose and the Eurasian elk are the same species

Growing antlers that can span over 1.8 metres, the moose is the largest of all deer species. Only males grow antlers, which are shed during the winter and are re-grown over the summer. Due to its impressive height (1.5 to 2 metres), this species has difficulty feeding from the ground, instead browsing on higher grasses and shrubs. The shape of its hooves enables this large, heavy animal to walk on soft snow and muddy ground, much like snowshoes work for humans.

9.      California condor

Photo of California condor in flight

A California condor may range over 200 kilometres in a day

With a huge wingspan of almost three metres, the California condor was worryingly declared Extinct in the Wild in 1987 when the last eight birds were taken into captivity. Following an intensive captive breeding programme, the first condors were released into the wild in 1992. Conservation of the California condor is ongoing and the population is continuing to increase, with the success of the programme being an inspiration to many.

10.      Bald eagle

Photo of a bald eagle

A bald eagle can carry up to 2.3 kilograms when in flight

As the national emblem of the United States, the majestic bald eagle is instantly recognisable. Believed to pair for life, mating pairs reinforce their bond by taking part in magnificent acrobatic displays in the air. When juvenile bald eagles, or eaglets, are about four months old, they often appear to be larger than their parents because their wing feathers are longer at this age. These flight feathers act as stabilisers when a juvenile bird is learning to fly.

Kaz Armour, ARKive Text Author

May 12

Today is Mother’s Day in the US and is a chance to honor and give thanks to mothers, both human and those of the animal variety!

In nature, mothers come in all shapes and sizes and are equipped with a wide range of different parenting styles.  We’ve selected a handful of moms with unique and fascinating methods for raising their babies from keeping little ones close for years to kicking them right out of the nest before they can even fly!

How many aunts do you have?

Photo of American bison

Furry and ginormous, American bison mothers live with their young in hierarchical herds led by one dominant female. Within three hours of being born, the newborn calves are able to run about but are guarded closely by many of the herds’ mothers who will charge any intruders. Talk about safety in numbers!

Ever wish your mom would let you have your own place?

Photo of long-eared owl

Our fine, feather mom, the long-eared owl, takes on the more ‘distant’ parenting approach. In a behavior known as ‘branching’, chicks leave the nest before they are able to fly and reside in surrounding vegetation, roosting separately, and thereby potentially reducing predation. While the young are capable of flight at around 35 days, both parents continue to provide food for several weeks after fledging.

Did your mom ever carry you and eight of your brothers and sisters in her mouth?

Photo of American alligator

The scaly and not-so-cuddly American alligator mother is a more involved mom. From the time that she builds the nest for her 25 to 60 eggs to the moment they hatch, she remains quite close for the 65 day incubation period guarding against any potential predators. An efficient mom, she can carry eight to ten hatchlings at a time in her mouth!

Think you live in tight corners with your mother, brothers or sisters?

Photo of American black bear

The fuzzy but protective American black bear mom keeps her cubs close, real close. Mom and cubs snuggle up for months during winter hibernation and, since cubs aren’t weaned until they are six to eight months old, the family tends to spend a second winter hibernation in close quarters.

Could you imagine having your babies but then leaving them immediately?

Photo of Hawksbill turtle

The hawksbill turtle mother, after laying up to 140 eggs in a single nest, leaves her young behind to hatch and fend for themselves for the rest of their lives. If the hatchlings survive the mad dash to the sea just after hatching, they spend their first few years in the open ocean before returning to more sheltered coastal waters.

Haven’t gotten your fill of moms and babies on ARKive yet? Check out this search for ‘mothers’ to see animal moms from around the world on ARKive!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Ari Pineda, Program Assistant, Wildscreen USA

May 11
Photo of whooping cranes foraging in a corn field during spring migration

Whooping crane (Grus americana)

Species: Whooping crane (Grus americana)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America, reaching up to 1.5 metres in height.

Named for its whooping call, the whooping crane represents one of the best-known conservation success stories in North America. This large white bird is marked with red and black on the face, and has black wing-tips. Whooping cranes usually mate for life, and have a varied diet consisting of crabs, clams, small fish, insects, frogs and other wetland animals, as well as berries and grain. The whooping crane undertakes spectacular migrations of thousands of miles from its nesting grounds in northern North America to its feeding grounds in the south.

Once widespread across North America, the whooping crane has undergone a dramatic decline in recent centuries. By the mid-20th century its migratory population had been reduced to just 16 individuals, and its non-migratory population disappeared entirely. This huge decline resulted from wetland clearance and drainage, as well as egg collecting, hunting and other human disturbances. Human development and collisions with power lines still present threats to this large wetland bird today. Fortunately, the whooping crane has been the subject of concerted conservation efforts, including habitat protection, population monitoring and a captive breeding programme, with captive-bred individuals being released back into the wild. As a result of these efforts, the total whooping crane population has increased to around 599 birds.

Find out more about whooping crane conservation at the International Crane Foundation and the Whooping Crane Conservation Association.

See images and videos of the whooping crane on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author


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