A playful litter of 12 Dhole pups born in late March debuted outdoors at the United Kingdom’s Howletts Wild Animal Park.
Dholes, also known as Asiatic Wild Dogs, typically have litters of four to ten pups. “To have a litter of 12 healthy and active pups is quite unusual,” said Ben Warren, head of the park’s Carnivore Section. “The pups are getting really confident now and love playing around and annoying the adults, they’re really entertaining to watch.”
Dholes typically live in large packs. Once weaned, the pups are cared for and fed by the entire pack. Packs work together to take down large deer, wild boar, and cattle. Unlike other pack hunters, like wolves, who allow the dominant adults to feed first at a kill, Dholes give priority to pups. Nursing females and their young are fed regurgitated food by other members of the pack.
Dholes have an unusual and varied vocal range, and communicate using a series of squeaks, whistles, and barks.
Once found in most of Southern and eastern Asia, Dholes now live only in parts of India, Tibet, Bhutan, and extreme southeast Asia due to illegal hunting and habitat loss. Dholes are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.