Seven endangered African Painted Dog pups have made their first public appearances at Chester Zoo.
The playful pups scampered out of their underground den, led by their mother K’mana who had kept them safely tucked away since giving birth to them on November 19. Also known as African Wild Dogs, it is the first time the endangered animals have ever been bred at the zoo.
Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, said, “After spending six-weeks deep inside their den under the watchful eyes of mum, the pups have now come out and they’ve most certainly come out to play! These rare pups are incredibly important new arrivals and a major boost to the international breeding programme which is working to try and ensure a brighter future for these impressive and beautiful animals.”
African Painted Dogs are one of Africa’s most threatened carnivores and are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation experts fear there may now be fewer than 1,500 breeding Dogs left in isolated regions of eastern and southern Africa.
Mike Jordan, the zoo’s Collections Director, added, “With human populations increasing in Africa and villages expanding, Painted Dog numbers have plummeted as their habitat is converted to farmland. This puts them in direct conflict with local people, where they are hunted and poisoned for killing livestock and exposed to infectious diseases transferred from domestic Dogs.”
For more than 10 years, Chester Zoo has been a vital part of the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust African Wild Dog Programme in Tanzania, working to return healthy and genetically diverse populations of Painted Dogs back to the wild. Zoo experts have helped conservationists working in Africa to re-establish viable populations of Painted Dogs, bred in special protected breeding areas in Tanzania, in two national parks – Tsavo and Mkomazi.
African Painted Dogs are named for their mottled coat with splotches of black, yellow, white, and brown. They live in packs and hunt cooperatively to bring down prey many times their size. They are known for their speed, reaching 44 miles per hour, and their stamina during hunts.
See more photos of the pups below.