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  • Gpz Wolf Ayasha

Zoo Mourns Endangered Red Wolves

With deep sadness, the team at the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History (GPZ) announces the deaths of American red wolf pair, Ayasha and Nayati.

Ayasha was born at GPZ on May 6, 2008. She was one of a two female pup litter.

“She was the first baby born on my routine after I started,” said Zookeeper Angie Blommer. “I was able to watch her birth via remote camera. She was the smaller of the two pups, so I named her Ayasha, which means ‘little one’ in the Cheyenne language.”

Nayati was born at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo on May 7, 2007. He came to GPZ in 2014 as part of the AZA American Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, which is a cooperative breeding effort between partner zoos aimed at saving red wolves from extinction.

Ayasha and Nayati were heroes of their species, strengthening the odds of American red wolf survival through successful breeding. Ayasha had two successful litters at GPZ – one with Nayati and another with a partner prior to his arrival. Ayasha and Nayati’s two daughters were placed at another zoo – each having successful litters of their own. American red wolves are critically endangered, with fewer than 30 surviving in the wild, due to over-hunting, poaching, habitat loss, and other human interference.

In 2021, Nayati was diagnosed with a nasal squamous cell carcinoma. Because removal of the tumor would have meant removal of a large portion of his nose, the GPZ veterinary team chose to provide supportive care until the tumor began compromising his quality of life.

Also in 2021, Ayasha was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at her annual checkup. She received medication and supportive care after her diagnosis, but recently, she stopped responding to this therapy.

Due to the progressive nature of both Nayati and Ayasha’s conditions, their advanced ages, and their dependance on one another, the decision was made to humanely euthanize the pair earlier this week.

Ayasha and Nayati’s keepers will remember them as incredible parents. Nayati was very good at staying in "his spot" at the back of the exhibit to guard the den and his family. As a red wolf father should, he would bring food to the entrance of the den for the pups, and once they started exploring the exhibit, he would regurgitate his food for them.

Throughout her life, Ayasha’s favorite game was running along her fence line with her keepers. Even when they walked by in street clothes, she always noticed them – and would let them know it.

Ayasha and Nayati’s favorite treats were rats, mice, and pork – and they would hunt any bird, squirrel, skunk, or opossum that dared enter their territory.

“From watching Ayasha be born and grow up, to watching her become a mother and Nayati a father, to watching them be true wild wolves in all aspects of their lives is truly a gift. I will miss these two wolves more than I can explain,” said Blommer.

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