Taronga Western Plains Zoo is celebrating the arrival of four rare African Wild Dog pups, which were born to the Zoo’s breeding program in early May.
Experienced mother Zuri, who was transported to Taronga Western Plains Zoo from Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand in 2008, has been very protective of her young.
“The pups remained in the den with Zuri for the first few weeks before they started to venture out and explore their yard,” said keeper Kelly Taylor.
“Zuri and father Notch are both very attentive to their offspring. Browny, the other adult male in the pack, is also being a good uncle and is heavily involved in raising the pups as it is his job to help feed them,”
The pups are really inquisitive now that they are 15 weeks old, becoming more and more independent and taking their place in the pack,” said Kelly.
The pups have undergone their second set of vaccinations and will hopefully be on exhibit for the October school holidays for visitors to see these rare creatures.
“Zuri is one of the most genetically important females in the region, therefore this litter of pups is even more important as they will ultimately contribute to the regional population in the future,” said Kelly.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo has extensive experience working with African Wild Dogs having held the species since 1982. Keepers have become proficient in husbandry, breeding and pack development and movements, and have seen a large number of births to the program.
This birth is very significant for the regional breeding program as it ensures genetic diversity within the captive African Wild Dog population.
African Wild Dogs will grow to be the size of a large domestic dog however they are slender in body and long in limbs, weighing in at an average weight of 17 – 36kgs. Along with highly specialised hearing they also have unique markings of black, yellow, brown and white.
African Wild Dogs are listed as endangered in the wild with the demise of the species mainly as a result of persecution by humans, susceptibility of diseases and also habitat loss.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located at Dubbo in Central Western NSW. The Zoo is open everyday from 9am – 4pm. For more information contact 02 6881 1400 or visit www.taronga.org.au.