Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Will gray wolves adopt strange pups or give them the cold shoulder?

Seriously, Science?By Seriously ScienceApril 4, 2016 3:00 PM
14499471080_d36532e03e_z-300x225.jpg

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Image: Flickr/Hilary CooleyAnimal babies are pretty cute, and there are many stories of animals rearing babies that aren't their own--sometimes even from different species. Scientists hope to one day harness this instinct and trick gray wolves from dwindling populations into rearing pups born in captivity. Not only will this help the zoo-born young learn to live in the wild, but it can also increase the size of shrinking gene pools. But the authors of this study wanted to test this plan in a way that doesn't leave newborn pups out in the cold. To do so, they investigated whether captive wolves would foster babies from other other litters. In the end, four separate females each adopted and fostered two pups who went on to be as healthy as any of their own. How cute is that!?Cross-fostering in gray wolves (Canis lupus lupus). "Cross-fostering in canids, with captive-bred pups introduced into endangered wild populations, might aid conservation efforts by increasing genetic diversity and lowering the risk of inbreeding depression. The gray wolf (Canis lupus lupus) population in Scandinavia suffers from severe inbreeding due to a narrow genetic base and geographical isolation. This study aimed at evaluating the method to cross-foster wolf pups from zoo-born to zoo-born litters. The following was assessed: female initial acceptance of foster pups, growth rate in relation to age difference between foster pups and pups in recipient litters and survival over the first 33 weeks. The study included four litters added by two foster pups in each. The age differences between the foster pups and the recipient litters were 2-8 days. After augmentation, all four females accepted the foster pups, demonstrated by her moving the entire litter to a new den site. Growth rate was dependent on the age difference of the pups in the foster litters, with a considerably slower growth rate in the 8 days younger pups. However, these pups later appeared to be at no disadvantage. Foster pups had a higher survival rate than females' pups, however, the causes of death were probably not kin or non-kin related. The results indicate that cross-fostering works in gray wolves and that this might be a plausible way to increase genetic variation in the wild population." Related content: When scared, baby roller birds vomit in your general direction.The road to baby torture is a slippery slope.What makes a cute baby cute?

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In