KINGSPORT, Tenn. - The Bays Mountain wolf pups are on their way to becoming part of the pack. They came here all the way from Minnesota in May and we're told they're quickly getting used to their new home.
Naturalist and caretaker Rhonda Goins told us the pups have tripled in weight since they arrived.
"When they got here they weighed about six to seven pounds a piece, now we weighed them Monday and they're 14 to 16 pounds a piece," Goins said.
Unalii is the oldest pup at eight weeks old, followed by Ela. The youngest pups are Ahuli and Takoda, who are both six weeks old.
Goins told us they brought in the pups to replenish the pack because a few wolves died last year.
This is the first time since 2007 there are pups at the mountain. Goins said it won't be the last group.
"We will try in another couple years to get a few more, just two boys, then we're done for about five or six years," she said. "We always try to add to our pack as we need to."
She told us, with these pups included, they have four females and three males.
They bought the pups with donations from the community. Goins says it cost $500 per wolf. She told us it's worth the cost, to educate children about the history of our region's wildlife.
"We're going to try to teach kids that we did have gray wolves in this area and we did have red wolves in this area," she said.
The pups have drawn a big crowd. We're told the day after they arrived, about 1,700 people came to see them.
Melody Hicks took her children right up to the edge of the fence on Thursday to get a good look.
"We didn't know if we'd get to see the puppies," Hicks said. "We didn't know for sure we were going to see the little ones yet so we were really excited."
She told us it's the first time any of them had seen wolf pups and they learned a lot.
"It's unreal the process they go through and how much time they spend with them," Hicks said.
Anyone can visit the pups during normal park hours.