PALM DESERT/INDIAN WELLS — African wild dogs, Beatrix and Kiraka (ker-ah-kuh), have given birth to six endangered African wild dog puppies.

The couple gave birth in the comfort of a private, underground birthing den. The puppies were born in the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, April 24, according to the birth announcement.

The first-time parents are residents of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

“We are absolutely thrilled to share the news of these African wild dog puppies,” Allen Monroe, president and CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, said in a prepared statement. “So far, Beatrix is doing a great job as a first-time mom.”

African wild dogs, also known as painted dogs, have a very complex pack and social structure, according to Zoo officials.  The Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommends to maintain a hands-off approach, which allows the critical bonding and development to happen as naturally as possible.

Since the birth, the animal care and veterinary teams have maintained the recommended distance, but have been closely monitoring the family’s activity through den cameras. The cameras allow Beatrix and the puppies plenty of space, comfort, and security.

“Through that continuous monitoring, we sadly learned one puppy failed-to-thrive and passed away at three days old, leaving six puppies to be raised by Beatrix and Kiraka,” Monroe said. “As first-time parents, the Zoo remains cautiously optimistic about the continued health and development of the litter, and is giving the family the opportunity to grow and bond without unnecessary intervention.”

Wild dog puppies are born with their eyes closed, and will remain in the den until about five weeks old. Once the puppies are about 6-8 weeks old and it is determined that the family unit is progressing normally, the decision to perform the well-baby exam for the puppies will be scheduled. At this exam, the veterinary team will evaluate the pups’ health and wellbeing, as well as determine their sex. The last litter of wild dog puppies born at The Living Desert was in 2009.

Currently listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, 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.

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  • African Wild Dogs Welcome Litter Of Puppies: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens