News Release

January 15, 2019
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
Brookfield Zoo Establishing a New Endangered Mexican Wolf Pack

Photo Captions—credit Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society
4571 and 4607: Apache (foreground), a 7-year-old old male Mexican wolf recently arrived at Brookfield Zoo to be paired with 2-year-old Ela. The two will be the new alpha pair at the zoo. It is hoped they will successfully breed this winter season and produce a litter of puppies in the spring.
2183, 4536, and 4545: Apache (background) and Ela will be the new alpha Mexican wolf pair at Brookfield Zoo. Apache, who is 7 years old, recently arrived to be paired with 2-year-old Ela. They can be seen at the zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat.

            Brookfield, Ill. –-With the start of a new year comes a new alpha wolf pair at Brookfield Zoo. Last month, a 7-year-old male Mexican wolf, named Apache, arrived from Albuquerque Bio Park in New Mexico. Animal care staff is hopeful that he and 2-year-old Ela will have a successful breeding season this winter and produce a litter of puppies this spring. Coincidentally, Ela’s name means earth in the Apache Native American language.

“While this is Ela’s first experience meeting a male outside of her natal pack, she is a confident wolf and we expect her to bond well with Apache,” said Joan Daniels, curator of mammals for the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages the zoo. “Ela’s familiarity with the successful den sites in the habitat at Brookfield Zoo and observations of her mother Zana rearing a litter in 2017 makes her the perfect partner for Apache.”

Due to Brookfield Zoo’s breeding success in the past, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan requested the zoo establish this new breeding pair as well as participate in ongoing reproduction studies for the species. As part of its continued partnership in the multi-agency Mexican Wolf Recovery Program led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Chicago Zoological Society has contributed to the program. Over the years, CZS has collaborated on two cross-fosterings of pups born at the zoo; the release of one of its adult females to the wild, who subsequently had a litter of pups; and took part in population-wide fertility studies evaluating methods to improve pregnancy rates.

As one of the world’s rarest species, breeding in protective care amongst Mexican wolves is critical for the species’ survival. Currently, there are about 114 Mexican wolves living in the wild in the U.S. and approximately 31 in Mexico. The necessity of this transfer for the survival of this species makes the services provided by LightHawk even more crucial. LightHawk is a nonprofit organization that partners pilots with conservation organizations to help transfer endangered species to new homes. Pilot Chuck Yanke and Julie Tromblay, his co-pilot, volunteered to fly Apache to Illinois.

“We are extremely grateful to Chuck and Julie for donating their time and services to help in the conservation efforts for the Mexican wolf,” added Daniels.

Back in October, all the wolves at Brookfield Zoo, with the exception of Ela, were placed at other facilities based on recommendations from the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan.
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31stStreet in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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