On 25 August 2017 our 11 African Wild Dog pups will turn one year old! Bayana, Kumi, Lady, Leonardo, Madash, Mambo, Nelson, Pat, Spot, Tybo and Ziggy, who can be individually identified by their unique markings, are now almost fully grown. Their daily routine at here at the Zoo revolves around feeding, cleaning, maintenance, checks, observation, conditioning and enrichment.
All of our African Wild Dogs are very enthusiastic and receptive to enrichment and love emu eggs, kitten milk, cat food smears and even parmesan cheese! They are also very responsive to perfume sprays and other animal products, which they rub on in an attempt to mask the scent with their own unique (and rather strong) odour. The keepers have spent a lot of time conditioning the pack to move on and off exhibit, so we can manage or treat the dogs when required, clean their exhibit and undertake routine maintenance. They are very responsive to these moves. They are, however, not fond of frosty mornings and will sleep in piles, cuddled up together, which makes it very hard to get a head count in the mornings, when we like to make sure all 23 dogs in the pack are present and accounted for!
Like all young dogs the pups like to look for trouble, and can often be seen chasing each other, pulling tails, play wrestling, digging and stealing each other’s bones (when are they are not sleeping in-between!) The alpha pair, Guban and Kimanda, usually rule with a firm hand, however they are still letting the pups get away with anything and they are allowed to eat as much as they want at feed time, usually ending up with very full bellies by the end! Their nine older siblings are very tolerant of their mischievousness.
Our spectacular pack is fed everyday at 2.20pm and this feed is always action packed - at times they demonstrate the agility of AFL footballers! African Wild Dog numbers are in rapid decline in the wild and so our pups are extremely important in maintaining a viable zoo based population and educating people on the importance of these beautiful, tenacious and charismatic animals.
By Keeper Genevieve Peel