SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A small zoo in Salisbury is currently fighting an uphill battle: trying to save the state’s red wolf population. 

Rowan County is currently accepting bids for Rowan Wild’s new red wolf building, which will double the size of the current structure and add an additional side yard. 

The county-operated zoo, located in Dan Nicholas Park, hasn’t accepted wolves at its facility in nearly two years since it’s been planning the expansion. Prior to that, it bred and housed a family of five red wolves, who were subsequently released into the eastern North Carolina wilderness. 

“In emergency situations like a hurricane or some other natural something that was coming that we needed to prepare for, we didn’t have enough space to bring everybody inside safely,” said Megan Cline, Rowan Wild’s nature center supervisor. 

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are only about 21 to 23 red wolves living in the wild. The species can only be found in the eastern portion of Tar Heel state. 

“It’s not something that you read about in a book, in another country somewhere,” said Cline. “It’s here in North Carolina, practically in our back door.” 

Rowan Wild serves as a Red Wolf SAFE breeding facility. The organization is working to replenish the population one pup at a time, with the goal of eventually releasing them into the wild. 

But with such limited space at their facility, they haven’t previously been able to take on a significant number of wolves at once, or step in to help when facilities on the East Coast need to send their packs during large storms. 

“It’s kind of neat to know that we’re helping such a critically endangered species right here in little Salisbury,” said Cline. 

The county is currently accepting bids for the construction until Nov. 7. 

The funding will come from a grant from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.