PALM DESERT/INDIAN WELLS —  All six African Wild Dog 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 in the litter, according to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

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Dr. Christine Higbie exams the female African wild dog puppy.

The yet-to-be-named Wild Dog Puppies are the first litter for parents, Beatrix and Kiraka (ker-ah-kuh). Since their birth, this is the first time that the 4-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. 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.

“At one month old, we felt confident that the litter had bonded with their mother and were ready for their well-baby exam,” Dr. Christine Higbie, Associate Veterinarian at The Living Desert, said in a prepared statement.  “All of the puppies are progressing and developing as expected, and have really grown since their birth. They should begin to venture out of the den very soon.”

The Wild Dog 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 start eating meat.

“We are so happy to learn that the puppies are healthy,” Allen Monroe, President and CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, said in a prepared statement. “Beatrix has done an outstanding job caring for her puppies, and we are excited to continue watching them grow.”

Following the well-baby exam, the wild dog 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.

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Image Sources

  • Wild Dog Exam: Living Desert Zoo and Gardens