Once again, red wolves are on the prowl at new Lowcountry Zoo habitat

29 Jul

Once again, red wolves are on the prowl at new Lowcountry Zoo habitat

Brookgreen Gardens, a conservator of South Carolina’s indigenous animals, has opened Red Wolf Ridge at its Lowcountry Zoo.

The four-acre habitat houses three male red wolves in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Association of Zoos and Aquariums Red Wolf SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) program. The program manages the red wolf recovery program, overseeing breeding and population management with the goal of long-term sustainable animal populations, releasing captive-bred red wolves into the wild and managing their habitat. 

The Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Red Wolf Ridge on Saturday, July 29. Special recognition for the exhibit was presented by Gerry Shea with State Rep. Russel Fry’s office.

Red wolves, an endangered species, now have a home at Brookgreen Gardens’ Lowcountry Zoo.

During the ceremony, Page Kiniry, Brookgreen’s president and CEO, said that she and her staff are pleased to present this new red wolf exhibit at Brookgreen.

“This is a project we have been working on for several years,” she said. “And even prior to that, including in our master plan, we have been hoping and planning for a decade that we could add this to the Lowcountry Zoo.”

Funded by Brookgreen’s Campaign for the Next Generation, the exhibit allows this endangered species to live safely in their natural environment. 

“Red wolves are a critically endangered species that are native to the southeastern United States, and we are proud to be part of the effort to save this species while also educating the public,” Kiniry said. “Our goal is to support conservation efforts for this species by maintaining a healthy and viable population of red wolves under human care, growing education and awareness efforts, and aiding research vital to supporting population recovery and management.”

Although captive red wolves are located throughout the country at different Red Wolf SAFE facilities, they are managed as a single population. They are routinely transferred among the facilities to breed according to genetic management objectives to help maintain the health and diversity of an increasing population. Potential puppies born at Brookgreen will be evaluated and selected to either be released into the wild or remain part of the captive breeding program.

Red Wolf Ridge will give visitors a chance to see the wolves from many vantage points.

Brookgreen’s Lowcountry Zoo, one of only five institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in South Carolina, allows guests to learn about animals that are native to the Lowcountry, including species seen in the wild. These animals engage visitors in the natural world, inspiring a deeper connection, a sense of wonder, and an interest in preservation. All the native animals in the Lowcountry Zoo were either bred and raised in captivity or have sustained a major disability due to injury. In either case, these animals cannot survive in the wild.

Andrea DeMuth. vice president and curator of zoological collection at Brookgreen, said during the ribbon cutting ceremony that it has been a long haul to get the exhibit ready.

“We are really excited that this exhibit is finally available for everybody to experience,” she said. “They are beautiful animals.”

She explained that they are starting out with three boys for one year to train staff before more wolves are brought into the habitat.

“They want to make sure that we learn how to do their husbandry, restrain them, and do their vet visits and everything before they bring a female in for breeding,” DeMuth said. “Until then, the three boys will entertain everybody.”

Brookgreen is grateful to all who supported this new habitat through the Campaign for the Next Generation: Robert and Jacquie Paul, Conservation Centers for Species Survival, the Christy and Ken Taucher Fund of Central Carolina Community Foundation, Larry and Ruth Schliessmann, Denisa and Craig Garner, First Citizens Foundation, Allen and Nancy Kenny, Champions for Wildlife, and donors that joined the Brookgreen Alpha and Beta Red Wolf Packs.

The new exhibit is part of a recovery program for the red wolves by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Association of Zoos and Aquariums Red Wolf SAFE.

Beth Stedman, president/CEO of the Georgetown County Chamber, said during the ribbon cutting ceremony that Brookgreen Gardens is very important to South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.

“At the Chamber we talk a lot about the importance of connections and Brookgreen is a place that connects us to art, and to creativity and the natural world,” Stedman said. “It is such a unique place to be, where you can enjoy all of those things in one location. Thank you for all that you do, and the connection you provide among our neighbors, family and guests.”

Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Landmark and one of the premier attractions on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast. Brookgreen is located on U.S. 17 (also known as Ocean Highway) in Murrells Inlet and just north of Pawleys Island and is open to the public daily. Southern Living recently named it the best gardens in South Carolina.

Founded in 1931 by Anna Hyatt Huntington and Archer Huntington, Brookgreen is home to the largest and most significant collection of American Figurative Sculpture in the country and continues to be a leader in sculpture conservation, environmental conservation, and protection of the plants, animals and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. For more information, visit or call 843-235-6000.

By Mark A. Stevens / director of tourism development for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast

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