Taronga Western Plains Zoo is celebrating the arrival of nine African Wild Dog pups, born to the Zoo’s breeding program for this endangered species in December.
This is the first successful litter for breeding pair, Kimanda (dam) and Guban (sire), and the first litter born at the Zoo since 2009.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome this litter of pups,” said Life Sciences Supervisor Jennifer Conaghan.
“Due to their nature and social structure, African Wild Dogs can be very challenging to breed, and to have this success is a credit to the expertise, patience and husbandry skills of our Zoo Keepers.”
All nine pups, born on 17th November, have undergone their second of three vaccinations and will be on display over the coming Easter school holiday period.
“As would happen in the wild, the pups remained in their den with mother Kimanda for their first few weeks of life, before venturing out to explore their surroundings behind the scenes,” said Keeper Linda Matthews.
“African Wild Dogs can have litters of up to 15-18 pups. With these nine new arrivals, our breeding pack has grown to 14 and the entire pack is involved in the welfare and raising of the pups. We have seen both males and females look after and provide food for them.”
The birth of this litter is very significant for the both the regional breeding program and the African Wild Dog population.
“African Wild Dogs are endangered in the wild, they’re the most endangered large carnivore in Africa, and therefore every birth is critical,” said Linda.
“Their demise is as a result of persecution by humans, susceptibility to diseases and also habitat loss and human encroachment. Current estimates have the population at just 6,600 adults in the wild.”
Taronga supports African Wild Dog conservation through the Painted Dog Conservation’s work in the Hwange National Park, where anti-poaching teams locate and dismantle snares including treating and freeing trapped animals.
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.
African Wild Dogs will grow to be the size of a medium size domestic dog however they are slender in body and long in limbs, weighing in at an average weight of 17 – 32kgs. Along with highly specialised hearing they also have unique markings of black, yellow, brown and white, hence are also known as “Painted Dogs”.