Just in time for Michigan-Michigan State week, Detroit Zoo welcomes new wolverines

We're not sure if the Detroit Zoo is rooting for Michigan or Michigan State this weekend - but if this news is a sign, we can safely assume who they're picking.

The Detroit Zoo has welcomed two new wolverines from Sweden.

Born in separate zoos, male Yaroslawl, 2, and female Janis, 1, are recommended to breed through the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) as part of a partnership between the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the European Association for Zoos and Aquaria to maintain a healthy population of wolverines.

The wolverines’ arrival at the Detroit Zoo continues a 91-year tradition of caring for the species. A year before the Zoo was even open to the public, wolverines had already staked their claim.

They were among the first species to arrive at the 125-acre wildlife attraction while it was still under construction in 1927 and have remained ever since.

“Wolverines have been a popular species at the Detroit Zoo since the beginning. They are well adapted to Michigan’s climate, and guests love watching them explore and play, particularly in the winter when they are especially active,” said Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer.

With snow being an essential seasonal component of wolverines’ habitat requirements, Michigan is deemed an ideal environment for them. They have hydrophobic fur that is resistant to the harsh elements of winter such as frost and snow, and their kits are even born white so they are camouflaged in winter. These members of the weasel family have powerful jaws and long claws that help them rip into their food.

Once abundant in population, North American and Eurasian wolverines – the two known sub-species – are facing conservation concerns due to persecution, deforestation and other human developments. The wild European population was recently estimated at approximately 2,260 individuals throughout Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

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