Beta Mexican gray wolf

Courtesy Lehigh Valley Zoo

SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. - Beta, a Mexican gray wolf at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, has died.

The 13-and-a-half-year-old wolf was under very specific veterinary care for more than two years due to chronic ailments associated with his advanced age, according to a news release from the zoo. 

The zoo says wolves are extremely family oriented and each wolf plays an important part in the pack. The loss of Beta’s brother, Alpha, in February resulted in the remaining brothers to be unsettled for weeks following his passing, the zoo said. Beta eventually assumed the role of alpha and the introduction of the zoo’s new female, Magdalena, restored order to the pack as the three forged a new bond, according to the news release. Five-year-old Magdalena arrived earlier this year from the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York.

Keepers expect there will be unrest between the remaining two as they adjust to life without him and will closely be monitoring their behaviors for any changes. Guests may hear or see the wolves behaving strangely, so the zoo is asking people to be quiet and understanding as they cope with their loss and figure out their new dynamic moving forward.

Mexican gray wolves are a subspecies of gray wolf, often referred to as “el lobo”, and are the most endangered subspecies of wolf in the world. 

The zoo is one of approximately 50 zoos and conservation centers helping to rehabilitate Mexican gray wolves. The subspecies was nearly brought to extinction by widespread trapping and poisoning in the early 1900s. After reintroducing Mexican gray wolves, there are a minimum of 163 in the wild and approximately 400 in the captive breeding program as of 2019.

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