photo courtesy of Utica Zoo

The Utica Zoo is mourning the death of one of its Mexican gray wolves.

Bella passed away on Monday.

Bella would have been 17 years old in May.  The average lifespan for a Mexican gray wolf in captivity is 15.

She was born at the Cheyene Mountain Zoological Park in Colorado Springs, CO in May of 1998 and arrived at the Utica Zoo in December of 2006.

Officials say Bella was the Matriarch and Alpha of the pack at the Utica Zoo, which consisted of her two daughters, Sierra and Aztec.

Bella was much more social than Sierra and Aztec and keepers were able to hand feed her on a daily basis.

There are an estimated 83 wolves in the wild and about 300 in captivity.