News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
January 31, 2020

African Painted Dogs Born at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield, Ill
.—The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), is happy to announce the birth of seven African painted dogs born at Brookfield Zoo on January 13. Currently, the puppies are behind the scenes bonding with first-time mom Ngala (pronounced EN-galla). Although the puppies will not have access to their outdoor habitat until mid-spring, the public can visit the zoo’s social media channels or website at to see a video loop of the newborns.

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.

“The births are a welcomed addition to Brookfield Zoo. We hope when the puppies can be seen this spring, guests will become inspired to learn more about painted dogs and the plight their counterparts face in Africa,” said Joan Daniels, curator of mammals for CZS.

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.

The scientific name Lycaon pictus is derived from the Greek for "wolf" and the Latin for “painted.”

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.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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