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New attractions at the Detroit Zoo: Gray wolves and newborn warthogs


The Detroit Zoo is prepared for the teaming masses that will come along with the warm weather with newborn warthogs and, fresh from Canada, two gray wolves.

The lupine immigrants will be set up in a new habitat located in the zoo’s southwest corner. Called the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness, their new home is filled with environments native to Michigan.  It has two acres of grassy hills, meadows, a pond and flowing stream, dens and elevated outcroppings for canine observation.

The duo is made up of a 7-year-old female named Waziyata, which is Lakota for “north,” and a 5-year-old male named Kaskapahtew, which is Lakota for “smoke.”  The two were born in the Great White North but were actually brought from the Minnesota Zoo earlier this year.

There will plenty of places to see the wolves in the $1.4 million habitat. However, one way stands out more than the rest.  The exhibit has a historic log cabin where visitors can actually stare face-to-face with the creatures by way of expansive glass viewing windows.

“Our goal is to provide the wolves with a wonderful home and also to educate our guests about these apex predators and their importance to Michigan’s ecology,” said Ron Kagan, the zoo’s executive director and CEO.  “We’re so grateful to the Cotton family for helping to make the Wolf Wilderness possible.”

IMG_6130The zoo is so excited about this new draw and wants to invite more wolves to visit.  Anyone who has the name wolf … or any variation… and can prove it with an ID … gets free admission.  Examples include Wolf, Wolfe, Wolfson, Wolford, Wulff or Wulfmeier.  It can be first, last, or middle name.

The debut of The Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness will coincide nicely with the zoo’s annual fundraiser, Sunset at the Zoo on Friday, June 12.  This year’s event called “Summer Chill,” sponsored by Strategic Staffing Solutions, celebrates the forthcoming Polk Penguin Conservation Center and will have a strolling supper, music, dancing, auctions and access to many of the zoo’s award-winning animal habitats at twilight.

One of the auction items will let one lucky individual host a skating party at the Detroit Zoo’s future Polk Penguin Conservation Center. Others are a hard-hat tour of the construction site, dinner for 11 at the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness, dinner for 12 with the giraffes, lions or polar bears, and a birthday celebration and sleepover for 20 at the Zoo.

Additional auction items include a Fox Theatre or Joe Louis Arena suite and dinner at Vinsetta Garage for 15, a Detroit Red Wings road trip for two, the Detroit Tigers president’s suite for 18, a Detroit Lions suite for 12, a Rolex Sea-Dweller watch, a trip to Peru, and an Ikea living room and patio

For information or to purchase tickets, visit

The new warthog piglets were born on April 8. The girls are named Daenerys, Sansa, and Cersei and the boys are Tyrion and Hodor.  All the fresh arrivals are named after characters on the popular television show, Game of Thrones.

Lilith and Piglets - Photo by Jennie Miller

Lilith and Piglets – Photo by Jennie Miller

The new warthogs are the third birth in three years for parents Lilith (mother), age 10, and Linus, age 5 (father).  This raises the number in their sounder, a group of pigs, to 12.

“We’re thrilled to have this new litter to add to our warthog family. Like all pigs, warthogs are smart and precocious and a lot of fun to watch running and rooting around in their habitat,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society.

Visitors who want to spy the warthog, known scientifically as Phacochoerus africanus, can tell them by their flat faces, elongated snouts, two large canine teeth that curve upwards, short straight canines and the name-giving facial wart.

They are almost hairless and grey-skinned with a black, thick, coarse, mane going down their neck and back.  Adults can reach 30 inches in height and weigh 125-300 lbs.

In their natural habitat in sub-Saharan Africa, warthogs are threatened with extinction by drought and hunting.

There is no shortage of things to see at the zoo, this summer.  It seems clear that they will not take much time off as the weather warms up.


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3 comments on “New attractions at the Detroit Zoo: Gray wolves and newborn warthogs

  1. Very well written story. It will be useful to everyone who utilizes it, as well as myself. Keep up the good work � i will definitely read more posts.

  2. I do not know about others but I love the wolves and admire their strength or attitude. They seems to be cruel but have a kind heart inside but often misunderstood by the cold look in their eyes. I am going to check out these gray wolves soon.

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