The Maned Wolf
What a strange creature is the Maned Wolf. It has a foxes face, a deers legs and a wolflike body. This canid is in the same biological family as dogs, wolves, foxes and jakals. It is the largest canid in South America.
I snapped these pictures on a recent trip to the zoo in Montgomery Alabama where I first saw this beautiful animal in person. He was the hit of the trip as far as I'm concerned. It's hard to believe such an animal even exists.
The Maned Wolf is the only living representative of the Chrysocyon genus. It's full scientific Latin name is Chrysocyon brachyurus which translates into golden dog with a short tail. Golden dog I can understand, but the "short tail" is sort of a mystery to me. It looks fairly sufficient to me.
It probably evolved it's long legs due to hunting in the tall grasses of the South American plains.
The Maned Wolf gets about 3 feet tall at the shoulders and weighs in at about 50 pounds.
It is thought to be a hunter and carnivore but it has been proven that they are omnivorous and eat a diet of at least 50% fruits, vegetables and roots. In fact zoos now feed them a varied diet as a meat only diet proved to be unhealthy for them.
They do hunt, usually at dusk and dawn. Their main prey are small rodents which they flush out by stomping around in the grass. They are solitary animals but come together during the mating season which lasts from April to November. At this time the monogamous pair, having raised their pups, will split up once more until mating season comes around again.
The pups usually come in litters of about three, they are born solid black and gradually change to the golden red adult coloration. They weigh about one pound at birth and quickly mature, achieving full adulthood at one year.
Locals sometimes call them the "Skunk Dog" because of the strong odor of their urine which they use heavily to mark their territory. It is said to smell somewhat like marijuana.
The Maned Wolf is not yet considered endangered but it is approaching the milestone. Loss of habitat is their main detriment. But interaction with domestic dogs and the diseases they carry along with death by automobile has put a strain on them too.
The Maned Wolf wild habitat includes Brazil, Paraguay Argentina, Peru and Bolivia.
Luckily Maned Wolves are well represented in zoos throughout the world. They are popular attractions and breed well in captivity.
Thanks for reading about the Maned Wolf, one of the most unusual and interesting animals on the planet.
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