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Pups doing well at 6 weeks

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This is one of the four maned wolf pups born six weeks ago at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal.

Wolves get shots, first exam

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Four maned wolf pups born six weeks ago at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute received their first round of vaccinations, as well as a physical examination, on Thursday.

While there isn't a great deal of information known about them, the initial results of the physical left research biologist Nucharin Songsasen describing the pups as "very bright, very active and healthy."

Songsasen says there appear to be two males and two females in the litter, which will be easier to confirm as time passes.

"The attitudes of the males and females are different already," she said, adding that the males were quick to growl, while the females "were much sweeter."

The routine exam included a series of vaccinations, much like one would have done for a new puppy, Songsasen said, as the pups are susceptible to many of the same things that dogs are. However, since they're at the institute, the pups already have a better chance of survival.

Maned wolves have a high mortality rate, due to the species' recurring gastrointestinal disorders. Research shows that these issues could be linked to other problems with their reproduction.

After some time, the pups will be fed puppy chow to make sure they get as much protein as possible, Songsasen said. The pups will soon receive additional vaccinations.

As for the family, Songsasen said they are getting along well. The father is still protective of his pups, she said, which was evident on Thursday when the shots were given, and the pups were taken from their den.

"The dad wasn't quite happy about that," she said.

Overall, Songsasen feels that things are going well for the four pups, who belong to a species that is "near threatened."

"We still have to be cautious, and follow protocol to make sure they survive," she said.

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