Pupdate #5May 24, 2019
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to share that all six puppies, born April 24, 2019 are healthy and thriving. Today, May 24th, the animal care and veterinary teams performed a routine well-baby exam and learned there are five male puppies and one female puppy in the litter.
The yet-to-be-named puppies are the first litter for first-time parents, Beatrix and Kiraka (ker-ah-kuh). Since their birth, this is the first time that the four-week-old puppies have had any interaction with the animal care team. African wild dogs, also known as painted dogs, have a very complex pack and social structure. It is recommended by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to maintain a hands-off approach, which allows the critical bonding and development to happen as naturally as possible.
“At one month old, we felt confident that the litter had bonded with their mother and were ready for their well-baby exam,” said Dr. Christine Higbie, Associate Veterinarian at The Living Desert. “All of the puppies are progressing and developing as expected, and have really grown in size since their birth. They should begin to venture out of the den very soon.”
The puppies, born with their eyes closed, have grown more coordinated and all weigh between 1.88kgs to 2.26kgs (4.1 – 5 lbs.). Around five to six weeks old, they will begin to venture out of the den, and will be visible to guests. At that age, they will also begin to wean and begin eating meat.
“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 so 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 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 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) SSP, which enables a healthy, genetically diverse, and self-sustaining population of species in human care.