The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to share that all 11 critically endangered African wild dog puppies, born January 18, 2020, are healthy and thriving. On Wednesday, February 18th, the animal care and veterinary teams performed a routine well-baby exam and learned there are seven males and four females in the litter.
The yet-to-be-named puppies are the second litter for parents, Beatrix and Kiraka (ker-ah-kuh). The pair’s first litter of six, born April 24, 2019, are eagerly awaiting their chance to meet the newest additions.
“All of the puppies are healthy, developing as expected, and are absolutely adorable. At one month old, their eyes are open and they have grown stronger and more coordinated,” said Dr. Andrea Goodnight, head veterinarian at The Living Desert. “Wednesday’s exam was the their first interaction with the veterinary and animal care team and everything went as planned.”
The puppies all weigh between 1.88kgs to 2.26kgs (4.1 – 5 lbs.). Very soon they will begin to venture out of the den and will be visible to guests. Around six weeks old, they will also begin to wean and start eating meat.
“We are very happy to learn that the puppies are healthy and developing as expected,” said Allen Monroe, President and CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. “Beatrix has done an outstanding job caring for her large litter. We are eager to watch them grow and become members of the pack. Soon, there will be 19 dogs roaming about their habitat, which is very exciting.”
Following the well-baby exam, the puppies were returned to the den and reunited with Beatrix. 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. The veterinary and animal care teams have maintained a hands-off approach to ensure the critical bonding and development happen as naturally as possible.
Currently listed as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), African wild dog populations number fewer than 5,000 individuals. As one of the most endangered African carnivores, African wild dog populations are struggling and 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. Beatrix, Kiraka and the newest additions are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which enables a healthy, genetically diverse, and self-sustaining population of species in human care.