Iberian Wolf

Canis lupus signatus

About the Iberian Wolf

The Iberian Wolf is a medium sized predator, around 30kg to 40kg and their scientific name ‘signatus’ means marked due to the white markings on their upper lips and the darker marks on the tail and front legs. Fairy tales and folklore portray the wolf as the bad character, a villain and an outlaw. Stories like ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ are ingrained in childhood and the fear of wolves is established early on. The stories are made up to entertain, but their portrayal as the enemy is reality. Historically farmers have had concerns about wolf populations because they threaten livestock. As a result, wolves have been pushed to the brink of extinction.

But there is another side to the story as wolves are also a great benefit to their environment. They control populations of animals such as rabbit, deer and boar, too many of which have a detrimental impact on forests and woodlands. The competition for vegetation leads to tree saplings never growing into mature trees and therefore the well-established forest is never replaced with a new generation.

Our Iberian Wolves

We have two female Iberian Wolves, sisters called Maria & Morena. The wolves can be seen on the safari drive at the carnivore section in Zone 2.

 

Fact Finder

A medium sized predator weighing between 30kg to 40kg that lives in Northern Spain and Portugal.

They are carnivorous, meat eaters, that prey on animals such as rabbit, deer and boar.

Wild populations are considered ‘near threatened’ which means they are at risk of becoming extinct in the near future.

Iberian Wolves have litters between 4 and 6 pups after a 63 day gestation

Wolves use their distinctive calls to protect territory from rivals and to call to other pack members. A wolf howl can be heard over a mile away.

Wolves are carnivores which mean they eat meat. Iberian wolves hunt prey such as rabbit, deer and wild boar.

Wolves are opportunistic and although they prefer to hunt, they will eat carrion (dead animals).

Their exploitative nature also means that even fruit is on the menu.

Iberian Wolves are native to Northern Spain and Portugal.

Their habitat is a mixture of woodland and scrub-land that provides cover to give them opportunities to hunt.

Wild populations are considered ‘near threatened’ which means they are at risk of becoming extinct in the near future.

Legally protecting wolves from hunting has allowed their numbers to steadily increase in areas across Europe and Iberian wolves are benefiting from this protection. Iberian wolf populations can now be found in North Western Spain and Portugal.

After many years of persecution, wolf populations are returning to long forgotten territories for the Iberian wolf. Their future will depend on working with local people and farmers, re-educating people about the benefits of having a healthy population of predators to re-establish the balance.

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