Four months old and full of energy, male dingo pup Mattie and female pup Naya come to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Indiana straight from the Dingo Discovery Centre in Victoria, Australia. While they may look like domestic dogs, dingoes started branching off as a subspecies 4,000-5,000 years ago. Unlike domestic dogs, dingoes howl instead of bark and can only breed once a year. In the photos below, Mattie and Naya explore their new exhibit for the first time and reportedly "enjoyed it immensely!"
More pics and info below the fold!
Meet the Zoo’s New Dingo Puppies
Friday, March 12
Zoo Australian Adventure
The puppies, who arrived at the zoo in January and recently completed their mandatory routine quarantine period, were imported directly from Australia to enhance the zoo’s existing dingo exhibit.
Both animals came from the Dingo Discovery Centre in Victoria, Australia, which is dedicated to the conservation of pure dingoes.
Male pup Mattie was born November 4, 2009; female pup Naya was born November 11, 2009. They are not related to one another. The two will replace female dingo Jaga, who came to the zoo from Warsaw, Poland in 1996, in the exhibit. Jaga remains at the zoo but at age 14, she is now retired.
The zoo looks overseas for pure dingoes because they are not being bred in United States zoos, according to Zoo Animal Curator Mark Weldon. “Our puppies were DNA tested to show that they are pure dingoes,” says Weldon. The Dingo Discovery Centre estimates that there are only 75 breeding pairs of pure dingoes in the world.
Fossil evidence suggests that dingoes migrated to Australia some 5,000 years ago. Although they look like domestic dogs, the latest research shows that dingoes are a subspecies of the wolf. Unlike domestic dogs, female dingoes come into heat only once a year. While domestic dogs bark, dingoes howl. “Other than that, you can’t tell them apart,” says Weldon.
Dingoes are viewed with controversy in their native home of Australia. Some regard dingoes as a treasured part of Australia’s unique natural history. Others view them as pests. In some parts of Australia, dingoes are trapped, poisoned, and shot.
“Even as the top predator in Australia, dingoes are in trouble,” says Weldon. “We feel they are worth preserving.”