Three endangered African Wild Dog pups raised by a Golden Retriever at the Oklahoma City Zoo now have names refelecting their African heritage and their surrogate mother.
Born on November 7, the pups were removed from their mother when keepers observed that she failed to provide maternal care. When the pups were a few days old, they were placed with Lilly, a Golden Retriever who was a proven mother and had just delivered a single pup herself. You can read the pups’ story in this ZooBorns post.
The pups, two females and one male, now weigh six pounds and have been weaned from Lilly.
The zoo staff chose the pups’ names to reflect their African heritage and to honor their surrogate mom. Ayana’s name translates as ‘beautiful flower,’ while Zahra’s name means ‘flowering.’ Male pup Maji’s name translates as ‘water lily.’ Lilly’s pup has been named Uno.
All four of the pups have benefitted from their time together, as Lilly has taught them “dog etiquette” and many other important social skills. Lilly, a former rescue dog, will soon leave the zoo with Uno.
Ayana, Zahra, and Maji are gradually being introduced to the other members of the zoo’s African Wild Dog pack. For now, they can see and smell each other, but it may be several months before they fully integrate with the pack.
African Wild Dogs have vanished from much of their range in sub-Saharan Africa. They live highly social lives in packs of 2-20 adults and their pups. They specialize in hunting Gazelles, which they chase to exhaustion. Food is regurgitated not only for pups, but for other adults as well, and this forms the basis of important social connections within the packs. African Wild Dogs are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.