Zoo Miami proudly announces the debut of a litter of highly endangered African Painted Dog puppies. The litter of one male and four females was born on January 23 and has been in seclusion in a den with their mother since until last week. Because this was the first litter two-year-old mother Little Foot, extreme caution was exercised in ensuring that mother and puppies were not disturbed for the first several weeks of the puppies’ lives.
These pups are the first successful births of this species at Zoo Miami in nearly 20 years. The births are part of a carefully planned breeding program to help ensure the survival of these endangered carnivores.
Until now, mother and puppies have been observed through a closed-circuit television camera to minimize disturbance. After the staff determined that Little Foot was caring for her puppies properly, neonatal exams were performed on each of the five pups. Until this exam, none of the staff had handled the pups. The exam included collecting blood, general physical exams, deworming treatment, and the placement of a microchip for identification. At six weeks of age, the puppies ranged in weight from 6 – 7.5 pounds. There will be another appointment in the near future to administer vaccinations.
Following the exams, the puppies were given access to the exhibit with their mother and father Evander for the first time. After initial trepidation, they followed their mother out onto the habitat. Though Evander showed extreme interest in the pups, Little Foot did not allow him to get close to the puppies. Instead, Evander observed the pups intently from afar.
With fewer than 6,000 individuals left in the wild, the African Painted Dog is one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent. Found in isolated pockets of eastern and southern Africa, they occur in packs of six to 20 individuals. African Painted Dogs’ cooperative hunting methods are one of the most successful of any carnivore. Only the alpha pair reproduce within the pack and the female can have as many as 20 puppies which are raised cooperatively by the other pack members.
The largest threats to African Painted Dogs, which are also known as African Wild Dogs, are being shot by land owners who consider them a threat to their livestock, fragmented habitat, and disease transmission such as rabies and distemper introduced by domestic Dogs.
See more photos of the pups below.