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!
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.”
When older, it is likely some of the pups will move to other zoos throughout Australia to share their genetics and partake in the regional breeding program to continue the survival of the species.
Also known as African Wild Dogs, African Painted Dogs are native to Africa south of the Sahara Desert. They live in packs and specialize in hunting Antelope, which are captured after being chased to exhaustion. Unlike other canids, the young are allowed to feed first.
Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, African Painted Dogs’ range has been severely reduced due to habitat loss. This greatly restricts the species because they require large ranges for hunting. Conflict with farmers and ranchers and disease outbreaks also contribute to their decline.