National Zoo & Aquarium

Hi! I’m Alpha the Maned Wolf

For this unique animal, it is a wolf in name only. While it is part of the ‘dog’ family’ it is more closely related to the south American Bush dog than any type of wolf. Maned Wolves have a number of characteristics that further distinguish them from true wolves; they hunt alone and much of their diet is fruits and plants. The most accurate part of their name describes their distinctive black mane which runs from their head to their shoulders. When the Maned Wolf senses danger, their mane stands on end, giving the illusion that they are larger and more intimidating.

The combination of the Maned Wolf’s reddish colouring and long legs has given them the nickname of ‘Fox on Stilts’. Their long thin legs help them to see above tall grass. The graded colouring from red to black on their legs acts as camouflage. While they stand one meter tall at the shoulder, they only weigh around 23 kilos. Without the bulk of a ‘true wolf’, the maned wolf prefers to hunt small prey such as armadillos and rodents. Their upper teeth are also significantly smaller than other large predators. The maned wolf would rather run from danger than confront it. As humans further encroach into their habitat, they are sometimes seen as pests to farmers and become easy targets. While hunting is prohibited in some countries, it is not strictly enforced. More needs to be put in place to protect these gentle and unique animals.

The National Zoo & Aquarium is home to two Maned Wolves; brothers Alpha and Juanito.

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Maned Wolf Facts

Conservation Status Near Threatened
Distribution Central areas of South America
Weight 20–23kg
Length Head to body 1.2–1.3m
Height 74–78cm at shoulder
Life Span 13 years in the wild, up to 15 years in captivity
Gestation 65 days

Learn more about the national zoo & aquarium on our zooventure tour

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Scrivener Dam, Yarralumla, Canberra, ACT 2611

Open every day from 9:30am to 5:00pm

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