Eleven troublesome ten week olds have trebled the population of African hunting dogs living at ZSL London Zoo in a coup for their endangered species.
Born to mum Branca and dad, Kruger the pups are the first of the species born at ZSL London Zoo since 80 years ago.
Keeper, Gerald Asher explained that, “The arrival of the African hunting dog pups at ZSL London Zoo is a real cause for celebration, as their species is classed as endangered in the wild.”
With African hunting dogs being incredibly shy in the first few weeks of having pups keepers had to use an innovative method to see them. “While Branca got used to looking after her new arrivals, we monitored the infants and mum through a remote camera-trap – just like those we use to monitor these dogs in the wild,” explained Asher.
After ten weeks keepers were finally able to get their first real life look at the youngsters as they ran them through health checks, vaccinations and determined their genders this week.
Keepers formed a speedy production line to ensure that the puppies were relaxed as the keepers took a photo to identify them using individual face markings. This will help them to identify the pups going forward as Asher explained, “Having taken pictures of their faces, they’ve all got unique markings which can be used to tell them apart. They are all different shades of black to white with white tips to their tails.”
Following their checks the staff were pleased to announce that they have six males and five females. Currently they weigh “a very healthy three to five kilos (6.6 to 11 pounds)”.
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) support conservation projects in Africa that are helping to save the African hunting dog which is suffering as a result of habitat loss and human conflict. In Kenya they work to ensure a peaceful future between humans and animals.
A Senior Research Fellow at ZSL, Rosie Woodroffe explained their precarious position in the wild, “African hunting dogs are one of the world’s most endangered carnivores, with just 700 wild packs thought to remain. It’s exciting that people in the UK will have a chance to see these gorgeous pups, and to learn about the plight of their wild cousins.”
You can see the pups at play below.
Photo Credit: ZSL London Zoo