African Painted Dog Pups Born at Brookfield Zoo


Proud mama Ngala is currently bonding with her seven new pups.

It's an exciting time here at Brookfield Zoo as we announce the arrival of seven African painted dogs that were born on January 13. Currently, the puppies are behind the scenes bonding with first-time mom Ngala (pronounced EN-galla). The puppies will have access to their outdoor habitat around mid-spring.

In early March, the puppies will receive their first round of inoculations. At that time veterinary staff will also perform neo-natal exams and determine the sex each puppy.

The breeding of the alpha male and female was based on a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for a species. Currently, there are just over 200 African painted dogs in 38 accredited North American zoos. Brookfield Zoo is one of eight zoos to receive a breeding recommendation for 2020.

Painted dogs have disappeared from much of their former range, making them one of Africa’s most endangered predators. According to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the largest populations are found in southern Africa (northern Botswana, western Zimbabwe, eastern Namibia, and western Zambia) and the southern part of East Africa (Tanzania and Mozambique) The species’ numbers continue to decline, primarily due to habitat fragmentation, conflict with human activities, and transmission of infectious diseases.

African painted dogs are not closely related to domesticated dogs nor have they been domesticated—they are a true wild canid (dog) species. African painted dogs differ from their other canid relatives in that they have four toes on their front feet instead of five. It is the only canid species to lack dewclaws on the forelimbs.They have long legs and a lanky body, which gives the dogs both speed and endurance. Their large, rounded ears provide them with excellent hearing and help keep the dogs cool in warm climates.

They are a medium-sized animal weighing between 40 and 75 pounds. Puppies are born with a black and white coat that begins to change to a distinctively patterned coat of black, tan, dark brown, and white at about a month old. Like a human fingerprint, no two dogs’ coats are the same.

African painted dogs have a social structure similar to wolves. Exaggerated submissive posturing and vocal greeting ceremonies reinforce the pack’s social structure. Each pack has a dominant male and female, but all adult members help raise pups and care for sick or elderly members. Puppies are weaned around 10 weeks of age, although they start accepting regurgitated food from the adults before then. Puppies stay in the den for about three months and after that they begin to run with the pack and are proficient hunters at about a year old. Painted dogs reach sexual maturity by the time they are 18 months old.

While you wait to see the African painted dog pups in action, did you know you can support them by adopting Brookfield Zoo's pack? By adopting them, you'll be sharing the care and your donation helps to provide expert care for a full year.

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Posted: 1/31/2020 2:36:02 PM by Sean Keeley

CZS & Brookfield Zoo

Since the opening of Brookfield Zoo in 1934, the Chicago Zoological Society has had an international reputation for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation of the natural world. Learn more about the animals, people, and research that make up CZS here at our blog.


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