Bergen County takes on conservation role to save endangered Red Wolf
(HACKENSACK, NJ) – On Friday, October 1, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, the Board of Commissioners, and the Bergen County Parks Department cut a ribbon to celebrate the grand opening of the new Red Wolf exhibit at the Bergen County Zoo in Paramus.
One of only two wolf species in North America, the Red Wolf once roamed from Northern Massachusetts to as far as Eastern Texas, but unfortunately due to habitat loss, the species nearly went extinct. Only 248 Red Wolves remain with only an estimated nine living in the wild. The new exhibit at the Bergen County Zoo is part of a larger Red Wolf Recovery effort to save the Red Wolves species. The Bergen County Zoo’s new 10,000 square foot exhibit is now home to two (2) young brother red wolves, Shane and Rich, thanks to a collaborative partnership with the Wolf Conservation Center in New York.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said, “The County is thrilled to provide these two national treasures, Rich and Shane, a new home in our Zoo. My administration is proud to be able to place a role in the conservation and population restoration of one of the most endangered species on the planet. This is another example of providing our residents an opportunity to support a conservation effort right in their own backyard.”
“The recent opening of the Red Wolf Exhibit at the Bergen County Zoo reaffirms our County’s commitment to the conservation and preservation objectives highlighted in the first-ever Bergen County Parks Master Plan,” said Steve Tanelli, Bergen County Commissioner Chairman. “The exhibit will not only serve as a way for our residents to learn about the American red wolf, but will ensure that such a critically endangered species continues to recover and thrive.”
Regan Downey, the Education Director of the Wolf Conservation Center said, "The arrival of Rich and Shane at their new home will hopefully inspire all visitors to advocate on behalf of red wolves. With only 9 red wolves known to remain in the wild, these brothers are the future of their critically endangered species."
The grand opening celebration held on October 1, also marked the beginning of National Wolf Month. Festivities at the Zoo including performances by the Red Storm Drum & Dance Troop, extended zoo hours with free admission, extended hours for the train and carousel, crafts for children, a raffle with prizes, and giveaways.
The development of a red wolf exhibit was proposed in 2016. Neglia Engineering Associates designed the exhibit, and the Board of Commissioners awarded the construction contract to Zenith Construction in October 2019. The $1.1 million project was funded through the Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund and Bergen County Capital Improvement funds.
The Bergen County Parks Department is dedicated to providing recreation opportunities for all, preserving open space, enhancing environmental health, and protecting significant cultural and historic sites for current and future generations.
Photo Caption– Bergen County officials cutting ceremonial ribbon in celebration of new Red Wolf exhibit. (from left to right County Commissioner Chair Steve Tanelli, County Commissioner Germaine Ortiz, Parks Director Jim Koth, County Executive Jim Tedesco, Open Space Trust Fund Member Bill Sheehan, County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, Open Space Trust Fund Member Don Torino)