Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf

Young Mexican wolf pup born at the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens in 2022.

The Right to be Wild, a documentary by Madileine Torneman opens with a quote by Aldo Leopold “Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.”

Fifteen years ago I transferred to video and uploaded to YouTube an old 8mm movie I took during the late 1970s of what I believe was the last or one of the last wild Mexican wolves captured from northern Mexico before the species went extinct in the wild. Not long ago I realized that this wolf was the famous Don Diego, the young wolf captured in Mexico by Roy McBride who became one of the founders of the Mexican wolf captive breeding program and was an important part of the emergency effort to save the species. As you watch the film clip keep in mind that this animal, less than a week before I filmed it, was living in the wilds of Mexico. It was one of the last descendants of wild Mexican wolves that had been living in harmony with the land and Native Americans for thousands of years. The story of the Mexican wolf almost came to a complete end, but fortunately the species was saved when the United States passed the Endangered Species Act. If it wasn’t for that critical piece of legislation I am sure that the Mexican wolf would have gone completely extinct since there were few animals in captivity and virtually none in zoos.

Several years ago Madileine contacted me asking for my permission to use my 8mm footage in her film. Without hesitation I said yes like I have to other wildlife documentary filmmakers over the years. Once the film was completed I helped Madlileine promote the film which for sometime you could rent online.

During the Covid pandemic Madlileine moved back to Sweden and earlier this year she contacted me about how the film is now available on YouTube to watch for free (see link at the bottom of this blog post). When you watch this excellent documentary I hope that you will want to learn more about these beautiful animals and get involved in efforts to help with conservation efforts here in the United States and Mexico. I also hope that you will support Madlileine and her efforts to help wildlife by subscribing to her new YouTube channel at Wildearth1.

More on Don Diego and the 8mm film clip

All Mexican wolves believed to be alive in the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico today are the descendants of the progeny of Don Diego and four others. Don Diego was captured by Roy McBride who was hired by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with the Mexican government to rescue the last wild Mexican wolves in Durango and Chihuahua. Roy and I were fellow graduate students at Sul Ross State University in Alpine where the film was made.

The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens has been actively working to save this critically endangered species in many ways for over the past two decades. To learn more about Zoo efforts check out our big news from 2021 and 2022 on this blog.

Support Wolf Conservation Efforts in Texas

Connect with the Texas Lobo Coalition

Rick LoBello
Education Curator

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