A rare, endangered wolf adopted by a family that mistook it for a puppy has finally found a new home at a Brazilian zoo.
Its former owners – not named in reports – took the animal in after finding it on the streets.
It was only when it grew that they realised it was not a pooch but a wild animal.
The family members first suspected something was wrong when they noticed the animal’s legs and ears were strangely long for a dog.
They sought information from environmental agencies, which confirmed that it was a wild animal that cannot be domesticated.
It turned out the family’s ‘pet dog’ was actually a maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) – a canine predator found in South America.
The family then took the cub to Zoo Pomerode in Santa Catarina State, which has been welcoming endangered species for over 90 years.
In a video shared by the zoo, the playful cub can be seen chewing on and playfully hitting toys with its front legs.
Cassio de Sousa Borges, an environmental analyst at the State Forest Institute, told local media: “In addition to the legal reason, there is an ecological motivation.
“It preserves its instincts for wildlife and may, even unintentionally, cause some type of reaction.”
Experts say that as the cub was orphaned, it will likely require care for the rest of its life.
Biologist Jenifer Kroth said: “Because it didn’t live with its mother, it never learned to seek food, shelter, or defend itself.
“Therefore, it would not be able to survive alone, as it would become easy prey or would not find its own food.”
The canine is now sharing an enclosure at the zoo – with fruit trees, shrubs, a den, and even a lake – with an adult female maned wolf.
Keepers are making sure it receives a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and meat, and they will soon teach it to hunt for its own food.
The maned wolf is characterised by long reddish-brown fur, extremely long blackish legs, and a fox-like head.
Although it is listed as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List, it is considered ‘endangered’ in Brazil.
Zoo Pomerode is just one Brazilian institution taking part in the Maned Wolf Conservation Programme, which is involved in efforts to conserve the species.
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Story By: Simona Kitanovska, Sub-Editor: William McGee, Agency: Central European News
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