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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ Six red wolf pups have been born at a Durham museum where a captive breeding program is trying to save the endangered species.

The litter, three male and three female pups, was the second at the Museum of Life and Science since 1993.

``It almost makes you speechless to think about what it all means,'' Sherry Samuels, a museum director, said Wednesday. ``They're the future of the species, and we were part of that.''

The 4-year-old father wolf came from the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina last year. His 5-year-old mate came from the North Carolina Zoological Park the same year.

The museum, which got its first red wolves in 1992, is now one of more than 30 facilities, mostly in the eastern United States, involved in a captive breeding program operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said program leader Buddy Fazio.

Thousands of red wolves once roamed the area from Pennsylvania to Florida, and west to Texas. They were listed as endangered species in 1967.

By the time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established a captive breeding program in 1973, only a few dozen of the wolves remained. About 250 survive today.

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On the Net:

The non-profit Red Wolf Coalition: www.redwolves.com

N.C. Zoological Park's red wolf study project: www.nczooredwolf.org