Maned Wolf, South America’s bizarre “golden dog”

With huge ears and stilt-like legs, the mane wolf is a unique animal that roams the plains of Brazil and Argentina.

At first glance, the maned wolf looks like a cross between a fox and a dog. Although the name suggests that it belongs to the dog family, it is in fact neither a deer nor a fox – nor is it a wolf.

Instead, its scientific name is – Chrysocyon brachyurus – suggests that it is an animal in a class literally for itself. Although widespread in South America, its existence is threatened by urbanization, and it is almost extinct in its native Uruguay. And it does not help that his body parts have been used in traditional medicine – even if there is no evidence, either anecdotal or otherwise, that the treatment is effective.

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Learn more about this magnificent unique creature.

All about The Incredible Maned Wolf

DeAgostini / Getty ImagesThe South American maned wolf is literally a unique creature.

With a thick red coat, long black legs and large ears protruding from the head, the maned wolf can weigh up to 66 pounds and reach a length of about three feet, according to The Smithsonian. With an omnivorous diet and a nocturnal lifestyle, the animal thrives in savannah-like environments, but is found mainly in the northeastern region of Brazil.

Previously, it was found in countries such as Argentina and Uruguay, but urbanization in the latter country led it to near extinction, forcing it to migrate north.

Chrysocyon brachyurus is a lone hunter who prefers to hunt alone while foraging rather than in herd. Although an omnivorous animal, the mane wolf’s preferred diet includes foods such as seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as small birds and insects.

Due to its nature, the mane wolf is not prone to hunt wild animals that are much larger than it is. Moreover, its only natural enemies are the domestic dog and the puma, both of which have killed the maned wolf in the past.

Little is known about the animal’s mating habits. Like wolves, the creature is monogamous and guards its stomach all its life. On average, each pup produces between two and three pups, and the average gestation period is about two months.

Unfortunately, threats from urbanization and traditional medical methods continued to threaten its existence, and the mane wolf was actually on the verge of extinction for some time.

Threats from urbanization and traditional medicine

Maned wolf in the woods

GettyA South American jellyfish wolf stands on attention in the woods.

As its natural habitats continue to come under fire from increasing urbanization efforts, especially in Uruguay, the mane wolf continues to face threats to its existence. In addition to the threat of being killed by domestic dogs, the animal also faces threats of communicable diseases from its distant relatives – diseases that are known to kill them.

In addition, Maned Wolves are often run over by cars in increasingly urbanized areas, posing an additional threat to its existence. Even humans will participate in the act of hunting them – especially if they think the wolf will hunt or have hunted their chickens. Many chicken breeders have been known to hunt whole flocks of mane wolves for revenge after the loss of their chickens.

In the past, the animal was hunted by native Brazilians for its body parts. In particular, its parts have been used in traditional medicine, although there is no evidence – anecdotal or otherwise – that its parts offer any therapeutic benefits. In addition, the maned wolf was hunted before its eyes, which some Brazilians consider lucky talismans.

Although the animal has not yet been declared extinct, conservationists are aware that its existence is in danger – and they are taking steps to ensure that they continue to thrive in the years to come.

Efforts to rescue Maned Wolf

The moaning wolf's yawn

Jaguar Tambako / FlickrA jellyfish wolf yawns in the wild.

Officially, the maned wolf is listed on CITES Appendix II, US ESA-threatened and IUCN-Vulnerable. However, their populations continue to decline and experts believe they will soon be placed on the endangered species list.

To address the effects of urbanization and other threats, conservationists have taken steps to ensure that the species continues to survive – and thrive – in its natural habitat.

Laws have been enacted in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina that prohibit the hunting of mane wolves, and zoos have even helped critical populations survive and thrive in a protected environment.

Whatever you call it, the mane wolf is an animal that has thrived in the wild for millennia and deserves to continue to thrive despite human activities.


Now that you’ve read all about the mane wolf, take a look at the wolf eel, a grotesque-looking sea creature that lives in the Pacific Ocean but whose ugly appearance contradicts its gentle nature. Then learn about the gray cubs that recently appeared in Colorado for the first time in 80 years.

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