Rare wolf is moved to zoo in Bismarck

  • Article by: TOM MEERSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2010 - 8:11 PM

A captive Mexican gray wolf was rejected by her sisters and could no longer live at a Minnesota center.

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Minnesota's runaway wolf is leaving for good.

The rare Mexican gray wolf is moving to a new home at the Dakota Zoo in Bismarck, N.D.

Nicknamed "Medium Toast" because of her coloration, the female wolf was on the loose in the northern suburbs for four days in mid-February after someone pried open her cage at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake.

After she was captured in New Brighton on Feb. 18 and returned to her enclosure, she was attacked by her two sisters and had to be separated from them. It's common for wolves to have power struggles when something changes, said Peggy Callahan, the center's executive director; Medium Toast lost the dominance that she had in the pack. She was sedated on Wednesday morning and loaded into a crate for the drive to North Dakota.

"It's not what I would call a happy ending because none of this needed to happen," said Callahan, "but it's the best possible outcome for the wolf."

Medium Toast is 7 years old, said Callahan, and will live with an older male wolf on exhibit at the Dakota Zoo. The purpose is not breeding, she said. The male has been neutered, probably because he was inbred and is not considered a good candidate for reproduction, she said.

The two wolves will get to know each other through a fence for the first week or two, said Callahan, before sharing the space.

Mexican gray wolves are the smallest species of gray wolf and were placed on the endangered species list in 1976 after disappearing in the wild in the United States. Captive breeding programs have increased the population to about 200, including 50 that have been returned to the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.

Callahan suspects that animal rights activists broke into the center, and she said security is being upgraded.

Authorities said they have no evidence that extremists were involved. "It could have been, but it could just as easily have been somebody causing problems," said Lt. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

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