A litter of six African Wild Dog pups born on April 24 at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens got their first well-baby exam in late May and were proclaimed healthy and thriving.
The pups, who represent the first litter for mom Beatrix and dad Kiraka, include five males and one female. This exam was the first time any of the zoo staff interacted directly with the pups. The African Wild Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, recommends using a hands-off approach to allow for natural bonding and development of the pups.
Since birth, the pups have opened their eyes and become more coordinated. At their exam, each weighed between four and five pounds. They’ll soon begin weaning and will start nibbling on meat. Any day now, the pups will start to venture out of their den and be visible to guests.
“We are so happy to learn that the puppies are healthy,” said Allen Monroe, President and CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. “Beatrix has done an outstanding job caring for her puppies, and we are excited to continue watching them grow.”
Following the well-baby exam, the puppies were returned to the den, rubbed with dirt to eliminate the human smell, and then reunited with their mom. The animal care and veterinary teams will continue to closely monitor the family’s activity through den cameras which allow Beatrix and the puppies plenty of space, comfort, and security.
Currently listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), fewer than 5,000 African Wild Dogs remain on the African continent. As one of the most endangered African carnivores, African Wild Dog populations are in decline due to human-wildlife conflict, habitat destruction and canine diseases, like distemper and rabies. The Living Desert supports specific African Wild Dog conservation projects that work to bolster wild populations.
See more photos of the pups below.