ROYAL OAK, Mich., June 14, 2012 – The Detroit Zoo is playing the role of matchmaker for its resident male wolverine, 11-year-old Jigi, and newcomer Anna, a 5-year-old female.
Anna’s arrival May 10 from the Minnesota Zoo is part of a cooperative breeding agreement to jump start the captive population of wolverines. There are currently less than 50 individuals in accredited U.S. zoos.
“Anna is young, curious and energetic, and we think she’s a good match for Jigi,” said Robert Lessnau, Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals.
If the wolverines mate successfully, the Detroit Zoo could have kits as early as this winter. Wolverine breeding season runs from May through August and kits are born between December and February after delayed implantation and a 40-day gestation period. Delayed implantation assures that the kits are born with the best chance of survival by holding undeveloped embryos dormant until conditions are ideal.
Anna makes her debut just in time for the Detroit Zoological Society’s annual fundraiser, Sunset at the Zoo, on Friday, June 22. Presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions, the gala event features a strolling supper, live entertainment, dancing, auction prizes and access to the Zoo’s award-winning animal habitats at twilight. To purchase tickets, visit www.detroitzoo.org/sunset.
The Detroit Zoo is also home to 16-year-old female wolverine Luka.
The wolverine (Gulo gulo) is the largest member of the weasel family, reaching about 3 feet long and weighing 20 to 45 pounds, with males generally larger than females. Kits are born with a white coat to blend in with the snow in their native environment. A mature wolverine has a brown or black coat with a light-brown band down each side of its body. Its large paws act as snowshoes in the winter, allowing it to travel easily over deep snow, and its powerful jaws are capable of crushing frozen bone.
Found in isolated, northerly regions of North America, Eastern Europe and Asia, the wolverine is a shy animal that favors the deep wilderness. It is known for its elusiveness, voracious appetite and formidable demeanor.