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Endangered African painted dog pups born at Oklahoma City Zoo

Jennifer D'Agostino/Oklahoma City Zoo

Six African painted dog pups were recently born at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, zoo officials have announced.

The dogs were born on November 5 and 6 to first-time mother Pele, a 3-year-old African painted dog who first arrived at the zoo in October 2021, according to a news release.

The pups are the zoo’s first litter of African painted dogs since 2016, the zoo’s curator of carnivores, Tyler Boyd, said in the release.

The breed of dogs, also called African wild dogs, is among the world’s most endangered mammals, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Between 2010 and 2022, the species’ population in the wild dropped from around 11,800 dogs to about 5,000, according to the Oklahoma City Zoo. The zoo says it has “a rich history of support” for the endangered animals, both at the zoo and in the wild.

“By supporting conservation programs specifically targeting African painted dogs, we can not only increase awareness about this dynamic species to our guests here at home, but also continue to learn about this remarkable species through programs strategically created to conserve African painted dogs throughout their range, helping save this species from extinction,” Boyd said.

The zoo shared video on Facebook of Pele and her new puppies spending time together in their den.

Caretakers use the video-monitoring equipment to keep an eye on the pack, according to the release. The caretakers have observed the pups nursing regularly, which suggests they are “healthy and thriving,” zoo officials reported.

“We are currently focused on letting mom continue to bond with the newest additions behind the scenes, along with the rest of the pack – something vital to their success,” Boyd said.

African painted dogs are known for their unique tri-colored coat, prominent ears and fluffy white tails, according to the zoo. They’re described as social animals that live in groups of between two and 40 dogs.

Southern Africa and southern parts of east Africa have the largest remaining populations of the endangered mammals, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The Oklahoma City Zoo currently has nine painted dogs and has been caring for the species since 1972.

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