Dogs, Dholes & Dingoes

Painted Dog Pups Get Names - and Their First Checkup

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Eleven endangered African Painted Dog puppies were given their first hands-on health check following their birth in April at Perth Zoo. The pups also received their names!

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20245769_10155027817261715_5562874475391909893_nPhoto Credit: Alex Cearnes (1,2,4); Perth Zoo (3,5)



The puppies were each individually medically assessed, weighed, vaccinated just like domestic Dogs and their sex determined by two teams of veterinarians who worked efficiently to reunite them with their protective parents quickly.

Senior Zoo Keeper Becky Thomasson said, “Since their birth in April, we’ve taken a hands-off approach to allow the pack to develop as they would naturally in the wild, but it is important to give each of the new arrivals a veterinary examination.”

Thomasson said the exam revealed that the pack includes seven females and four males. “Importantly they were all in excellent shape, with one tipping the scales over six kilograms [13 pounds], a very healthy weight for a 12 week old African Painted Dog pup!”

The zoo held a naming contest for the pups, and chose these names suggested by fans: Aisha, Baraka, Chikondi, Kamali, Muhumhi, Onika, Skabenga, Tokwe, Tamba, Umfazi, and Zuberi

The eleven puppies were the result of matchmaking a Perth Zoo-born adult female with a male from Altina Wildlife Park, introducing a new bloodline into the regional breeding program.

“Mother Kisuri and father Hasani have been perfect first time parents. They let the pups eat first, but also discipline them, setting the boundaries when required.”

“With less than 6,000 of these Dogs in the wild, there is a real risk of this species going extinct in our lifetime,” said Thomasson. “Zoo breeding programs have never been more important and the birth of these eleven puppies helps put their species a step further away from extinction.”

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Zoo’s New Lion Cub Bonds With Foster Mom

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Idaho Falls Zoo is thrilled to announce the extraordinary birth of a male African Lion cub! The cub was born February 17 to first-time parents, Kimani and Dahoma.

“Unfortunately, shortly after his birth, the cub had to be removed from his mom to be treated for a medical issue. We are pleased to report that he has completely recovered and is almost ready to be returned to his mother,” states Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Rhonda Aliah.

Because of the advanced age of the parents and the unique genetics of the couple, this adorable little guy is extremely important to the captive African Lion population in North American zoos. Although reintroducing this genetically valuable cub to his parents is essential for his development, the process is not simple or straightforward.

To lessen any risk, the cub will be returned to his mother when he is bigger and more mobile. The AZA and other zoo professionals explored all possible options for the cub. “Everyone agreed that the only option available was to keep the cub at the Idaho Falls Zoo and eventually reintroduce him to his parents,” states Aliah.

When the time comes for the cub to re-join his family, a Lion manager from the Denver Zoo, who has experience with conducting these types of reintroductions and who serves as an advisor to the AZA’s Lion SSP, will be onsite during the reintroduction. The Lion manager will help interpret behaviors and guide zoo staff during what will be a very stressful and potentially dangerous, yet important, time in the cub’s life.

In the meantime, the cub needs to be socialized. Lions are the most social of the big cat species, and sociability is incredibly important for behavioral and psychological reasons. Young cubs rely on other members of their pride to teach them how to be adults. A cub that has been away from his parents is at risk for not being easily accepted back into the pride and could be injured or killed when reintroduced.

So, how do you keep a Lion cub social without being around other Lions? ...meet Justice, another new member of the zoo family.

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20170419_083024_resizedPhoto Credits: Idaho Falls Zoo (Images 1 & 4) / City of Idaho Falls News (Images 2,3,5)

Justice is a not a lion, but a Great Pyrenees with wonderful mothering instincts. Two-year-old Justice is a rescue dog that has had at least one litter of puppies. When rescued, representatives with the Humane Society of the Upper Valley found her alone caring for her puppies, as well as a weak sheep. Her puppies have all been rehomed, and now Justice has a new role: nursemaid to a rambunctious two-month old African Lion cub!

Zoo Curator, Darrell Markum, explains, “An important aspect of animal development, particularly with baby carnivores, is having an adult animal teach ‘animal etiquette.’ This includes not biting other animals hard enough to injure them and not using your claws to climb on your elders. Justice is a very patient teacher.”

Given the unique situation, the use of domestic dogs to raise young carnivores is an accepted practice in modern zoos.

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Dog Fills In As Nanny To Endangered Tiger Triplets

33013402791_f7bbfc861c_oAfter they were ignored by their mother following their birth on February 3, three Malayan Tiger cubs have been cared for by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s nursery staff.  Now, the cubs’  care team includes the zoo’s four-legged, resident nursery companion and former nanny to several zoo babies: Blakely the Australian Shepherd Dog.  The six-year-old super-dog has been called into action to provide snuggling, comfort, and a body for the cubs to climb on.

“He’s more than just a large, warm pillow for the cubs.  Blakely is the adult in the room.  He teaches them proper Tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive,” said Dawn Strasser, head of Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery staff. “This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”

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32846043985_44cf5d523a_oPhoto Credits:  Mark Dumont, DJJam, Lisa Hubbard

The cubs, named Chira (because she was treated by a chiropractor), Batari (which means goddess) and Izzy (which means promised by God,) would have received similar cues from their mom. Because being with her is not an option, Blakely is the next best thing.  His baby-rearing resume includes experience with Cheetahs, an Ocelot, a Takin, a Warthog, Wallabies, Skunks, and Bat-eared Foxes.  Last year, to recognize Blakely’s nurturing nature, the City of Cincinnati proclaimed October 19 to be Blakely Day!

“My team can feed and care for the Tiger cubs, but we can’t teach them the difference between a play bite and one that means ‘watch out’. So, that’s Blakely’s job,” said Strasser. “Just a little time with him at this early age will help them learn behaviors that will come in handy when they meet Tigers at other zoos in the future.” The cubs will move to the Zoo’s Cat Canyon this summer after they have received their last round of immunizations.

Malayan Tigers are Critically Endangered, with fewer than 250 breeding-age adults living in the wild.  Less than 100 of these Cats live in zoos, making these three cubs – and Blakely’s job as caregiver – incredibly important to the effort to save Malayan Tigers.

See more photos of Blakely and the Tiger cubs below.

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Cincinnati Zoo’s Painted Dog Pups are “Cheese-tastic”!

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Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden keepers recently selected some “cheesy” names for their African Painted Dog pups. The puppy cheese tray, born October 16 to mom Imara and dad Kwasi, includes Nacho and Muenster (the two males). The female pups have been named: Bleu, Brie, Gouda, Queso, Colby, Swiss, Cotija, Mozzarella and Feta.

“The only thing our primary Painted Dog keepers love as much as dogs is cheese! The cheese theme had an added bonus of offering a large variety of name options,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo and Vice Coordinator of the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP).

“African Painted Dogs are born white and black with portions of the black turning to gold when they are 6-8 weeks old. The white marks remain the same from birth; these unique markings will help keepers identify each pup for future vaccinations, physical exams, and day-to-day care. They will eventually learn their names which allow keepers to train them individually and teach important husbandry behaviors,” Gorsuch continued.

All the Painted Dog pack members are participating in the rearing of the eleven pups (one of the litter of twelve did not survive).

“The pups are seven weeks old and completely weaned from their mom’s milk onto meat. The entire pack is fed together 3-4 times a day in order to keep up with the demand of the growing puppy appetites. Anything the pups don’t eat is consumed by the four adults, who will regurgitate meat for the pups, throughout the day and night. They have incredible puppy energy and are running circles around the adults; everything is new and very exciting for them,” said Gorsuch.

(ZooBorns introduced the new family in an article from early November: "Endangered Painted Dogs Arrive By the Dozen")

Mom, Imara:  14500777_10154409897535479_3957877092265095920_oPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo/ Kathy Newton (Image 2)

African Painted Dogs (Lycaon pictus) are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa. There are approximately 139 animals (55 males, 49 females, and 35 unknown sex) distributed among 33 North American Zoos and 564 in Zoos worldwide. The Cincinnati Zoo is currently home to 15 Painted Dogs.

The pack at Cincinnati has access to the outdoor exhibit when temperatures are above 50 degrees, so the first public viewing of the pups is likely to be in early spring.

African Painted Dogs, known for their large, round ears and beautiful, multi-colored coats, could once be found all over Africa. Today they are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa.

The Cincinnati Zoo supports the conservation of African Painted Dogs and other wildlife in southern Tanzania through the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP). The RCP works with local communities to ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park. The third largest African Painted Dog population lives in the Ruaha region and is also home to 10% of Africa’s Lions.

The RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras, or camera traps. The project aims to gather baseline data on carnivore numbers and ecology and work with the local communities to reduce human-carnivore conflict.


PUPDATE: First Medical Exam for Litter of 10 Painted Dogs

Painteddogphysical3771Audubon Zoo's 10 newborn African Painted Dogs had their first doctor's visit last week and passed with flying colors.

Examining 10 pups is a big job, but veterinary staff and zoo keepers conducted the exam in just one hour, moving quickly to return the pups to their parents.

The exam, conducted inside the pups’ habitat, revealed for the first time the gender breakdown of the litter: five females and five males.

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Painteddogphysical3965Photo Credit:  Audubon Zoo

The pups received vaccinations along with eye, ear, and heart exams. They were weighed and photographed from multiple angles to assist animal care staff with visual identification.  The vets also inserted transponder microchips under the skin of the neck between the shoulders of each pup - identical to the procedure used for domestic pets.

The chips can be scanned whenever the animal is in hand to determine its identity. This will be especially important when a Dog moves on to another zoo to join or develop packs as they would in the wild.

Born on September 11, the pups’ birth is a first for the Audubon Zoo and a significant development for the highly endangered species.

ZooBorns first reported on the pups when they were released into their habitat after spending the first weeks of their lives in the den with their mother.

The pups will get two more sets of vaccinations over the next two months. Now that the sex of each Dog has been determined, zoo staff will name them in the near future.

The newborns are the offspring of first-time parents Sienna, 4, and Pax, 9. Only a handful of accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has bred Painted Dogs, one of the most endangered carnivores on the African continent.

See more photos of the pups below.

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Endangered Painted Dogs Arrive By the Dozen

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The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s African Painted Dog pack grew from four to sixteen in mid-October when four-year-old mom Imara gave birth to a dozen pups!

It’s not the first time Imara has had her paws full. In January of 2015, she produced and raised a litter of ten pups, with the help of her first mate, Brahma.  This time, in addition to having new dad, Kwasi, as a helper, she’ll have assistance from her older offspring, Lucy (the only pup from the original litter that’s still in Cincinnati) and the new litter’s uncle, Masai (dad’s brother).

“Kwasi and Masai lived in a multigenerational pack that numbered 23 dogs at one point, so they’re well versed in dog etiquette. They witnessed the birth of at least one litter of pups and should be able to figure out their roles as father and helper,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo and Vice Coordinator of the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP).

“The social structure of African Painted Dogs is built around the raising of pups -the entire pack works together to ensure that the female and her pups have everything they need to succeed and survive. Just like in the wild, the members of our pack will help Imara by guarding the den box, regurgitating meat, and babysitting the pups when Imara leaves the den box.”

Kwasi and Masai, are both five-years-old and originally from the Perth Zoo in Australia. The male siblings arrived in Cincinnati, this past summer, with a breeding recommendation from the SSP.

“We felt pretty confident that Imara would remain our alpha female but the male dogs were a bit of an unknown. Within minutes of the group’s introduction, Imara and Kwasi clearly identified each other as alphas and Masai and Lucy displayed all the appropriate submissive behaviors. It was really amazing to see Imara teaching Lucy all the proper dog social skills for meeting new males. In Painted Dog packs, usually only the alpha pair breed and produce pups. We are very happy to see our pack functioning in similar ways to their wild counterparts,” said Gorsuch.

The pack has access to the outdoor exhibit, but visitors are not likely to see pups for a couple of months. Keepers expect Imara to keep them safely tucked away in their behind-the-scenes den.

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Photo/ Video Credits: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The African Painted Dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as the African Wild Dog or African Hunting Dog, is a canid native to Sub-Saharan Africa. They are known for their large, round ears and beautiful, multi-colored coats. The species could once be found all over Africa. Today they are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa. They are currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

Today, there are approximately 122 African Painted Dogs in 37 North American Zoos and 534 in Zoos worldwide. Gestation period for the species is approximately 68-73 days. Litters typically include 6 to 12 pups but can number up to 20. Pup survival rate is about 52%, making it a difficult population to sustain.

The Cincinnati Zoo supports the conservation of African Painted Dogs and other wildlife in southern Tanzania through the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP). The RCP works with local communities to help ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park.

The third largest African Painted Dog population lives in the Ruaha region and is also home to 10% of Africa’s Lions. The RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras, or camera traps. The project aims to gather baseline data on carnivore numbers and ecology and work with the local communities to reduce human-carnivore conflict.


Pack of Pups Takes it Outside

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It didn’t take long for a litter of ten African Painted Dog pups at the Audubon Zoo to figure out how to enjoy the great outdoors on their first foray outside their den. 

The family remained behind the scenes at the zoo for about six weeks after the pups’ birth on September 11.  But last week, the pups entered their outdoor habitat for the very first time.  They were hesitant at first, but after lots of sniffing and encouragement from their parents, the pups began to do what pups do – play! 

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Photo Credit:  Audubon Zoo



The pups are the first litter for parents Sienna, age 4, and Pax, age 9.  Because African Painted Dogs are endangered and are bred in only a few zoos, this birth is highly significant for the species.  Pax is one of the most genetically valuable members of the African Painted Dog population under human care.

Also known as African Wild Dogs, the animals can be found on the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. Due to the threats posed by habitat loss, poaching, snares, and poisoning, the Painted Dog population is at an all-time low of about 5,000 individuals in the wild.

There are approximately 112 African Painted Dogs in 37 North American zoos, and the pup survival rate is about 52 percent, so the survival of all ten of Sienna’s cubs is unusual.

Audubon Zoo and other accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums member institutions work together to manage Species Survival Plan programs for African Painted Dogs and other endangered species to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically stable population. Audubon Nature Institute has raised funds to help renowned British wildlife biologist Greg Rasmussen, the founder and director of the Painted Dog Conservation Project, who has studied the species for more than two decades.

See more photos of the pups below.

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Tiny Squeals Reveal Bush Dog Pups in Underground Den

FB TW Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (52)Two litters of Bush Dog pups at the Chester Zoo have begun to venture outside their dens for the first time.  The first litter, consisting of five pups, was discovered in August after keepers heard tiny squeals coming from the den. A second set arrived in September, but the number of pups is not yet known.  Some pups in the second litter may still be tucked in underground burrows.

The pack of pups means non-stop action in the Bush Dog exhibit.  The pups play-fight and explore most of the day.  When intervention is needed, the moms carry the pups in their mouths, careful not to injure the youngsters with their sharp teeth.

Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (29)
Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (57)
Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Bush Dogs are not well studied, so Chester Zoo keepers hope that these two litters will add to the knowledge base for the species.  For example, it is rare for two litters to be produced within one pack only weeks apart.  Normally, the alpha male and only one female produce offspring.

Once all the pups emerge, the zoo staff will weigh, sex, and microchip the pups, and conduct a hands-on health check.  This will allow the staff to monitor each individual pup’s progress.

Bush Dogs are native to Central and South America, where they inhabit wet forests and grasslands.  They hunt in packs to chase down small mammals, lizards, and birds, but can also hunt and kill animals twice their size.  With a web of skin between their toes, Bush Dogs are excellent swimmers. 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists Bush Dogs as Near Threatened after their wild numbers dropped by more than 25% in just 12 years. They have suffered from habitat loss from farming, a loss of prey species, and from contracting diseases spread by other canines or domestic dogs.

See more photos of the pups below.

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A Cheetah and His Dog

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The Columbus Zoo’s ten-week-old Cheetah cub, Emmett, recently met his new companion puppy, seven-week-old Cullen!

Emmett was born at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. Due to a bout of pneumonia, he was hand-reared, for several weeks, while receiving treatments. After his recovery, he was moved to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Emmett picked Cullen to be his companion dog, and the two have become quite the pair! Cullen will help Emmett to be more confident and calm. Emmett will soon begin his travels with Jungle Jack Hanna’s team and be an ambassador for his cousins in the wild. Cullen will be with him every step of the way!

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4_14188436_10153934649177106_4843894163779890520_oPhoto Credits: The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a big cat that is native to eastern and southern Africa and a few parts of Iran.

The Cheetah is characterized by a slender body, deep chest, spotted coat, a small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, long thin legs and a long spotted tail. It reaches nearly 70 to 90 cm (28 to 35 in) at the shoulder, and weighs 21–72 kg (46–159 lb). Though taller than the leopard, it is notably smaller than the lion.

Cheetahs are active mainly during the day, with hunting its major activity. Adult males are sociable despite their territoriality, forming groups called "coalitions". Females are not territorial; they may be solitary or live with their offspring in home ranges. Cheetahs mainly prey upon antelopes and gazelles.

The speed of a hunting Cheetah averages 64 km/h (40 mph) during a sprint; the chase is interspersed with a few short bursts of speed, when the animal can clock 112 km/h (70 mph). Cheetahs are induced ovulators, breeding throughout the year. Gestation is nearly three months long, resulting in a litter of typically three to five cubs (the number can vary from one to eight). Weaning occurs at six months; siblings tend to stay together for some time. Cheetah cubs face higher mortality than most other mammals, especially in the Serengeti region. Cheetahs also inhabit a variety of habitats: dry forests, scrub forests and savannahs.

The Cheetah is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The species has suffered a substantial decline in its historic range due to rampant hunting in the 20th century. Several African countries have taken steps to improve the standards of conservation.


Meet Shedd Aquarium’s Latest Rescue ‘Pup’

1_Peach D75Q2320Meet Peach-- a 10-month-old Dachshund/Terrier mix that was born in the southern United States. Found tied to a dumpster and bearing the marks of neglect (as evidenced by the scar running the length of her back), she was placed in a nearby high-kill shelter.

Through the help of volunteers, Peach eventually found her way to The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, Illinois. Once in the Chicago area, more good fortune was provided for the friendly dog. Officials at The Anti-Cruelty Society thought she was an excellent candidate for a special rescue and rehabilitation program at Shedd Aquarium

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4_Peach D75Q2309Photo Credits: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez ; Video footage: Sam CejtinPeach is currently being integrated into Shedd Aquarium’s dog program. The focus for now is getting her acclimated to her new home and building a positive and trusting relationship with her trainers. As with all other animals, she will make progress in her training as her comfort level allows. Shedd’s animal care staff is confident that she will make a smooth transition to her new home. She is young and her socialization will begin immediately – both with trainers and other dogs.  

Since her arrival at Shedd Aquarium, Peach has been nothing but very sweet. She is already open to interacting with people, and she is very playful with the other dogs at the aquarium. According to Shedd tradition, Peach was named after a character in the popular animated feature, Finding Nemo.

Peach currently weighs a healthy 20 pounds, and she has a short black coat with a large white spot on her chest.

She is the seventh dog to be adopted by Shedd Aquarium from a Chicago-area shelter, since 2013, and one of four dogs currently at the aquarium; two other animals have since been adopted into loving homes. These animals connect guests to living world, highlighting the “Shedd Way” of training through positive reinforcement and demonstrating how individuals can build strong relationships with the animals in their lives.

Peach may eventually be included in the aquarium’s “One World” show, which focuses on the interconnectivity of the living world and the impact we have on our shared environments.

Just as Shedd rescues endangered Sea Otters, Rock Iguanas, Corals and other threatened species, guests can make a difference for animals by adopting pets from shelters. Each year, 3 million unwanted dogs just like Peach (and Shedd’s other rescue dogs: Marlin, Dory and Kobe) are euthanized; nearly 90 percent of those deaths could be avoided with the right training. Shedd Aquarium’s dogs are examples of the potentially great companions that are just waiting for the right owners at animal shelters around the country.

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