Dogs, Dholes & Dingoes

Meet Shedd Aquarium’s Latest Rescue ‘Pup’

1_Peach D75Q2320Meet Peach-- a 10-month-old Dachshund/Terrier mix that was born in the southern United States. Found tied to a dumpster and bearing the marks of neglect (as evidenced by the scar running the length of her back), she was placed in a nearby high-kill shelter.

Through the help of volunteers, Peach eventually found her way to The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, Illinois. Once in the Chicago area, more good fortune was provided for the friendly dog. Officials at The Anti-Cruelty Society thought she was an excellent candidate for a special rescue and rehabilitation program at Shedd Aquarium

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4_Peach D75Q2309Photo Credits: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez ; Video footage: Sam CejtinPeach is currently being integrated into Shedd Aquarium’s dog program. The focus for now is getting her acclimated to her new home and building a positive and trusting relationship with her trainers. As with all other animals, she will make progress in her training as her comfort level allows. Shedd’s animal care staff is confident that she will make a smooth transition to her new home. She is young and her socialization will begin immediately – both with trainers and other dogs.  

Since her arrival at Shedd Aquarium, Peach has been nothing but very sweet. She is already open to interacting with people, and she is very playful with the other dogs at the aquarium. According to Shedd tradition, Peach was named after a character in the popular animated feature, Finding Nemo.

Peach currently weighs a healthy 20 pounds, and she has a short black coat with a large white spot on her chest.

She is the seventh dog to be adopted by Shedd Aquarium from a Chicago-area shelter, since 2013, and one of four dogs currently at the aquarium; two other animals have since been adopted into loving homes. These animals connect guests to living world, highlighting the “Shedd Way” of training through positive reinforcement and demonstrating how individuals can build strong relationships with the animals in their lives.

Peach may eventually be included in the aquarium’s “One World” show, which focuses on the interconnectivity of the living world and the impact we have on our shared environments.

Just as Shedd rescues endangered Sea Otters, Rock Iguanas, Corals and other threatened species, guests can make a difference for animals by adopting pets from shelters. Each year, 3 million unwanted dogs just like Peach (and Shedd’s other rescue dogs: Marlin, Dory and Kobe) are euthanized; nearly 90 percent of those deaths could be avoided with the right training. Shedd Aquarium’s dogs are examples of the potentially great companions that are just waiting for the right owners at animal shelters around the country.

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One, Two, Three Litters of Puppies!

African Painted Pups at Port Lympne Reserve c Dave Rolfe1

Keepers at Great Britain’s Port Lympne Reserve are celebrating as not one but three litters of endangered African Painted Dog puppies make their public debut.

Mum and pup at Port Lympne Reserve c Dave Rolfe
African painted pups get their health checks at Port Lympne Reserve c Dave Rolfe
Photo Credit:  Dave Rolfe

The puppies, a mix of males and females, are now three months old and bring the number of African Painted Dogs at the reserve to 43, split between five packs.

Adrian Harland, Animal Director, explained that a recent health check showed that all the pups are strong and healthy.  Keepers administered vaccinations and weighed each pup.

African Painted Dogs are one of the most effective hunters in the world and will normally live in packs of 20 to 40 members. Found mainly in Southern Africa, experts estimate that as few as 3,000 African Painted Dogs remain in the wild.  Conflicts with humans encroaching on their habitat, illegal hunting, and risk of disease are all factors in their decline.

Breeding programs in zoos and reserves are important to the future of this unique species.

See more photos of the puppies below.

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Update: Wild Dogs Pups Raised by Surrogate Have Names!

Three pups

Three endangered African Wild Dog pups raised by a Golden Retriever at the Oklahoma City Zoo now have names refelecting their African heritage and their surrogate mother.

Four pupsPhoto Credit:  Oklahoma City Zoo

Born on November 7, the pups were removed from their mother when keepers observed that she failed to provide maternal care.  When the pups were a few days old, they were placed with  Lilly, a Golden Retriever who was a proven mother and had just delivered a single pup herself.  You can read the pups’ story in this ZooBorns post.

The pups, two females and one male, now weigh six pounds and have been weaned from Lilly.  

The zoo staff chose the pups’ names to reflect their African heritage and to honor their surrogate mom. Ayana’s name translates as ‘beautiful flower,’ while Zahra’s name means ‘flowering.’  Male pup Maji’s name translates as ‘water lily.’  Lilly’s pup has been named Uno.

All four of the pups have benefitted from their time together, as Lilly has taught them “dog etiquette” and many other important social skills.  Lilly, a former rescue dog, will soon leave the zoo with Uno.  

Ayana, Zahra, and Maji are gradually being introduced to the other members of the zoo’s African Wild Dog pack. For now, they can see and smell each other, but it may be several months before they fully integrate with the pack.

African Wild Dogs have vanished from much of their range in sub-Saharan Africa.  They live highly social lives in packs of 2-20 adults and their pups.  They specialize in hunting Gazelles, which they chase to exhaustion.  Food is regurgitated not only for pups, but for other adults as well, and this forms the basis of important social connections within the packs.  African Wild Dogs are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 


Five Golden Jackals Shine at NaturZoo Rheine

Jackal_cFive Golden Jackal pups were born this spring at Germany’s NaturZoo Rheine.  Though not rare in the wild, this species is seldom found in zoos.

Jackal_fPhoto Credit:  NaturZoo Rheine

The Golden Jackal pack at NaturZoo Rheine lives “semi-wild” in an enclosure with Sloth Bears.  The Jackals dig burrows, where they sleep and raise their young.  

Zoo keepers become aware of new pups not by seeing the pups themselves – instead, they see the adult female’s enlarged teats, indicating that she is nursing pups.  The young Jackals remain in the den for several weeks. Then, the first sightings of pups begin to take place.  Until keepers see all of the pups outside at once, it is difficult to tell the size of the litter.  But they now know for sure that they have five pups!

Golden Jackals live in eastern and southern Europe, the Middle East, northern Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.  They travel in family units and adapt readily to changes in the food supply, feeding on anything from rodents, birds, fruits, and fish, to tubers and nuts.  Jackals figure prominently in European and Middle Eastern folklore, where they often play the role of a sly trickster.

See more photos of the Golden Jackal pups below.

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Elvis the Beagle Sniffs Out Pregnant Polar Bears


What do a two-year-old Beagle named Elvis and pregnant Polar Bears have in common?  Scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) have brought them together to detect pregnancy in Polar Bears living in zoos.

Elvis at Work1Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo

Traditional pregnancy detection methods like hormone monitoring and ultrasounds don’t work well in Polar Bears.  With climate change threatening wild Polar Bear populations, CREW’s staff is getting creative to help save this important species, and they’ve found a possible helper in Elvis the Beagle. 

Working with professional dog trainer Matt Skogen, CREW is trying to determine if the sensitive noses of canines like Elvis can distinguish a pregnant Polar Bear from a non-pregnant Bear simply by smelling fecal samples.

“This is the first time sniffer dogs have been used in biomedical research as it relates to any wildlife species, making this project truly one-of-a-kind,” said CREW’s Dr. Erin Curry. Currently, Elvis is demonstrating 97% accuracy in positive identification of samples from pregnant females – which is not only incredible but nearly as accurate as over-the-counter human pregnancy tests.

Since January, Matt has used more than 200 training samples collected from Polar Bears of known pregnancy status to help Elvis refine his detection technique. 

Last month, Elvis’s skills were put to the test.  He tested samples from 17 female Polar Bears whose pregnancy status is unknown.  The zoos are eager to know if these females are pregnant so they can monitor these Polar Bears and make preparations.  Pregnant Bears could be isolated with minimal disruption while being closely monitored by camera 24/7 in anticipation of a birth, whereas non-pregnant females would remain swimming and socializing all winter with their exhibitmates.

Read more about Elvis and Polar Bears below the fold.

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Edinburgh Zoo Welcomes an Endangered African Hunting Dog Puppy

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On October 23, carnivore keepers at Edinburgh Zoo announced the birth of an African Hunting Dog—a first for the zoo! The announcement coincides with the reopening of the hunting dog walkway, which keepers had closed to visitors in August as they suspected Jet, the pack’s non-dominant female, was pregnant. 

With less than 5,500 African Hunting Dogs left in the wild, the birth of this puppy is an immense achievement for Edinburgh Zoo. Habitat fragmentation is one of the biggest factors in the hunting dogs’ decline, as the packs need a large range in order to remain sustainable. Hunting Dogs are also heavily persecuted by farmers, even though the dogs rarely attack livestock. Education and conservation breeding programs, such as the one Edinburgh Zoo is part of, remain crucial to saving this species from extinction.

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4 hunting dogPhoto credits: Edinburgh Zoo

Darren McGarry, head of living collections at Edinburgh Zoo says, “We are all really excited about the arrival of this puppy. Hunting Dogs, like many other pack animals, are very difficult to breed successfully. Although we don’t know its sex yet, this pup is proving to be a real bundle of attitude. It’s very bold for such a young age and we’ve often spotted it tugging along joints of meat that are twice its size. All of the dogs have been seen feeding it and it looks like an established member of the pack."

He continues, “Most first-time mothers can be very nervous, so we decided to close the enclosure to visitors in order to give Jet and her pup the best chance of a successful birth. Hunting dogs have a very intricate social hierarchy and if they feel threatened this can cause the mother to reject her pups.”

In about a week, the puppy will be caught for its first health check and to be sexed. As Hunting Dog puppies are born black and white and only start to get their mottled markings at around two months old, the keepers will only name the feisty little pup once its colors have come through. 

Although Edinburgh Zoo’s pack has two males, Blade and Two Socks, only Blade, the dominant male, will breed with the pack’s females. Usually, the dominant female will be the one to have pups but it is not uncommon for lower-ranking females to also give birth. The zoo’s keepers are confident that this pup will be the first of many for their pack. 



Seven Pups for Perth!


Last week Perth Zoo celebrated an important milestone when their seven African Painted Dog pups emerged from the den for the first time and received a clean bill of health. The veterinary check-up included weighing, determining sex, adding microchips and noting each pup's unique markings. 

Unlike most canines, African Wild Dogs allow their their pups to eat first and, in the case of young pups, feed them directly. The Zoo's Environment Minister, Bill Marmion, explained “The adult dogs have been regurgitating their meals to help feed the pups. This is natural behavior that ensures the young develop and become part of the group.”


APD-Pups-2012-3weeks_0065_edited003Photo and video credits: Perth Zoo

In the wild these unique animals are endangered due to poaching, car accidents and disease among other threats. Learn more about these unique animals on the Perth Zoo website. More photos below the fold.

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Dhole "Toddlers" on Display at Minnesota Zoo

Dhole Pupst at Minnesota Zoo 1

On April 12, the Minnesota Zoo welcomed its first-ever litter of endangered Dhole pups and on April 14th, the Zoo welcomed a second litter! These births mark the 10th and 11th litters ever born in the United States. Dholes are exhibited at only two other North American institutions besides the Minnesota Zoo. This also marks the first time ZooBorns has shared these fascinating canines. 

The pups are currently in their “toddler” stage, just starting to venture outside of the den. At this time, the exact number of pups is unclear as keepers are giving mothers and pups time to bond and have not ventured into the den, but current estimates are around four pups. The two adult females are sharing maternal duties so the exact parentage of the pups is still unknown.

Dhole Pup at Minnesota Zoo Plays with Mom 1b

Dhole Pupst at Minnesota Zoo 2Photo credits: Galen / Minnesota Zoo

Also known as Asian wild dogs, Dholes are a primitive canine species that reside in highly structured social packs. Highly adaptable, they live in diverse habitats in Thailand, Russia, China, and India in areas with plenty of prey, water and suitable den sites. Exclusive carnivores, the Dhole’s diet consists of mostly small to medium-sized deer and wild boar. They den in abandoned burrows and have litters of up to 12 pups. All members of the pack care for the litter.

With less than 2,500 in the wild, Dholes are an endangered species. Due to human population growth in Asia, major threats to the species include habitat loss, lack of prey, and disease from domestic and feral dogs. The Minnesota Zoo supports Dhole conservation in Thailand.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's Dingoes Are Growing Up Fast!


The Dingo pups born at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo on January 30th are growing up fast! In these new photos from the zoo, the puppies can be seen frolicking in their outdoor environment. Pure Dingoes are increasingly rare in the wild due to hybridization of the species with domesticated dogs. The 6-week-old pups are strong and confident, and in between wrestling and playing, their favorite pit stop is this large hollow log!



Photo credit: Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Baby Dingoes Open Their Eyes!


These photos show Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's Dingo pups at 3 weeks old with their eyes open. The pups spend a lot of time yawning when they are awake. The puppies' parents Mattie and Naya are one of only about 75 pairs of pure Dingoes worldwide, so the pups are an important addition to the pure Dingo population.  In Australia, Dingoes have widely hybridized with domestic dogs, so pure Dingoes are rare. Mattie and Naya came to the zoo from Australia in 2010.




Cheryl Piropato/Fort Wayne Children's Zoo