Taronga Western Plains Zoo recently announced the arrival of eleven African Wild Dog pups!
The pups were born on August 25, 2016, and they are the second litter for breeding pair Kimanda (female) and Guban (male), who produced their first litter in late 2014.
“The pups have recently emerged from the den and can be spotted out and about in the exhibit, especially in the mornings and at meal times,” said Keeper Genevieve Peel.
“African Wild Dogs can have up to 18 pups in a single litter, so it is not uncommon to see large litter sizes in this species. Kimanda is being a very attentive and nurturing mother. She will regurgitate food for the pups, and at this stage, they are still suckling. But this won’t be for much longer.”
The whole pack has been observed getting involved in the raising of the pups. The older siblings have been seen taking food to them as well as babysitting the newest members of the pack.
“The pups are getting really confident at coming up and participating in feeding time. It’s a great opportunity to see the pack rally and work together to devour their meal whilst caring for the pups’ needs,” Genevieve continued.
“The pups are now nine weeks old and continue to grow in confidence. From approximately 10 weeks old, they should be visible most of the time on exhibit.”
The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as ‘African hunting dog’ or ‘African painted dog’, is a canid native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest of its family in Africa, and the only extant member of the genus Lycaon.
The species is classed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The current population has been estimated at roughly 39 subpopulations, containing 6,600 adults. The decline of these populations is ongoing, due to habitat fragmentation, human persecution, and disease outbreaks. They are considered to be the most endangered large carnivore in Africa.
The African Wild Dog is a highly social animal, living in packs with separate dominance hierarchies for males and females.
Like other canids, it regurgitates food for its young, but this action is also extended to adults. It has few natural predators, though Lions are a major source of mortality, and Spotted Hyenas are frequent kleptoparasites (theft of prey by another competing animal).