ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque BioPark has announced that their Mexican gray wolves Kawi and Ryder welcomed their second litter of seven pups in May. The pups recently came out of their underground den for the first time.

BioPark officials say Kawi is a protective mother and animal care staff have only been able to view the new litter by camera trap video so far. A date has yet to be set for the pups’ first exam and their sexes will be determined at that time.

The new litter will join their wolf pack which includes their parents and older brother Archer who was born last May along with two other siblings that didn’t survive. The BioPark says that mortality is often high in litters that are born to first time mothers like Kawi and around 30% of Mexican wolf pups pass away by their first birthday.

Zoo Manager Lynn Tupa says that second litters are typically larger, however, BioPark staff were surprised to see seven pups. “The ABQ BioPark has played an important role in Mexican wolf recovery over the years ad we’re proud to contribute to the survival of this critically endangered subspecies,” said Tupa in a press release. “Every new Lobo that we welcome boosts overall survival of wolves in the wild.”

This birth is part of a cooperative breeding program between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Wolf Recovery Plan whose goal is to restore Mexican wolves to their native southwest territory which includes New Mexico. Since 1983. the ABQ BioPark has welcomed 79 Mexican wolf pups.

The BioPark reports that the goal of the captive breeding program is to make the most genetically diverse matches to support the continued health of the Mexican wolf populations in human care as well as the wild. The BioPark has uploaded a video of the pups exploring their habitat on their YouTube channel.