PALM DESERT/INDIAN WELLS — Beatrix and Kiraka (ker-ah-kuh) gave birth to 11 healthy endangered African wild dog puppies, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens announced.

The second-time parents gave birth in the comfort of a private, underground birthing den. The puppies were born in the afternoon and evening of Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

“We are absolutely thrilled to share the news of these African wild dog puppies as the first birth of the new decade,” said Allen Monroe, President and CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. “Beatrix appears to be relaxed and comfortable with her new arrivals, and things are progressing as expected.”

African wild dogs, also known as painted dogs, have a very complex pack and social structure, and 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.

“The animal care and veterinary teams have been and will continue to closely monitor Beatrix and the puppies through den cameras which allow the family to have plenty of space, comfort, and security,” said RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care at The Living Desert. “We are so excited to share this wonderful news, and we will continue to give the family unit the opportunity to grow and bond without unnecessary intervention.”

Beatrix and Kiraka’s first litter of six puppies, born on April 24, 2019, are now learning how to be good members of the pack. African wild dog pack and social structures are multi-generational and led by the alpha female. Kiraka is teaching his six 9-month old pups how to support Beatrix and their new siblings which includes helping to protect, feed, and raise the puppies.

African wild dogs can have litters of 2 to 20 puppies. They are born with their eyes closed and will remain in the den until about five weeks old. Once the puppies are about four weeks old and the family unit is progressing normally, the well-baby exams will be scheduled. At this exam, the veterinary team will evaluate the pups’ health and wellbeing, as well as determine their sex.

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.

These births came from specific recommendations of the African wild dog Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is a cooperative breeding program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which enables a healthy, genetically diverse, and self-sustaining populations of species in human care.

For continued Pupdates, video, and photos, click here.

Image Sources

  • Mom and Pups: The Living Desert