Pupdate #2May 3, 2019
Expectant wild dog mothers select and prepare a den/burrow a few days to a few weeks before giving birth. Gestation is approximately 70 days. After whelping (giving birth), the mother stays within the den for the first few days with the puppies. The breeding male and other pack-mates stay away from the den except for regurgitating food to share with the mother.
African wild dog puppies are exclusively nursed by their mother for the first three weeks of life. They are born with their eyes closed. The pups are born with a black and white coat that begins to develop its distinctive black, tan, dark brown and white coat around one month. By 3-4 weeks, the puppies begin to eat solid food, and begin to wean as early as 5 weeks. At 7 weeks, the puppies are growing into adolescence and around 10 weeks, the pack begins to abandon the den.
The zoo continues to give Beatrix a lot of space to bond with her puppies, and remains cautiously optimistic about the health and wellbeing of the litter. For first time mom, Beatrix, there is a lot to learn and the species has a very complex social structure and rearing behaviors. The animal care team is consistently monitoring the litter, through regular den checks via the den cameras.
The birth of these puppies is a significant milestone for the conservation of the species, with fewer than 5,000 in Africa, and a human care population of 137 in 46 AZA accredited zoos. These zoos work together to maintain a stable population of wild dogs in North America, all of whom have been born in human care.
5/3/19 Pupdate Update:
The puppies and mom remain in their private maternity den.
The puppies are scooting and moving around the den when not sleeping or nursing.
Kiraka, the father, will continue to keep his distance from Beatrix and the puppies. If he gets too close, Beatrix will give strong vocalizations to let him know it’s time to back up.
This is the first African wild dog birth at The Living Desert since 2009