African Painted Dog Passes Away

Posted May 20, 2015

Brahmacontributed to the survival of his species by siring ten pups.

Brahma in Painted Dog Valley
Brahma in Painted Dog Valley

Cincinnati, Ohio (May 20, 2015) — Nine-year-old African painted dog Brahma (brah-muh), father of ten pups, passed away late Monday night. Veterinary staff had examined him earlier in the day after being notified by keepersthathe was very lethargic and had no appetite.The exam, which included blood work, X-rays and an ultrasound, revealed an abnormal accumulation of fluid in his abdomen. He received intravenous fluids, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication, but his condition did not improve and he died several hours later.

“ A necropsy (animal autopsy) confirmed the abnormal accumulation of fluid in his abdomen. A complete set of tissues will be sent to our veterinary pathologist to determine a cause for his clinical signs and death,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s Director of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Mark Campbell. Life expectancy for this species is 9-10 years in the wild and slightly longer in zoos.

The night before he died, keepers noted that “Brahma was last to come in for the night, which is unusual. He didn’t check on the pups or their mom, “Imara,” in the other stalls like he normally does. He lay down and was not interested in coming up for food or to get his meds.”   Brahma, who came to the Cincinnati Zoo from Zoo New England on a breeding recommendation from the painted dog Species Survival Plan (SSP), was the father of ten pups born earlier this year. This was the first litter for both parents. “He helped with the delivery, cleaning, feeding and care of the pups, which is normal behavior for painted dog dads. It’s rare, however, for all pups in a painted dog litter to survive. He is part of the reason that all ten pups are healthy and thriving,” said primary painted dog keeper Dana Burke.

“Brahma had a ton of personality. He was very vocal and wasn’t afraid to tell you what’s up. I’m not sure what he was saying, but he wanted to be heard. He was also reserved and it took a bit of time for him to trust people,” said Burke.  “I have spent most of my career working with geriatric/special needs males, so I have a huge soft spot for them. He was my favorite dog. I knew I wouldn’t have him long, but this is a huge loss for us and the remaining dogs. At least he had the opportunity to pass on his legacy.”

Imara and the pups are doing fine and will be out in Painted Dog Valley as usual. It is unlikely that another adult male will be introduced into the pack in the near future.

There are about 534 African painted dogs, also known as African wild dogs, in zoos worldwide including approximately 103 painted dogs at 34 AZA institutions in the United States. Their gestation period is approximately 68-73 days and litters typically include 6 to 12 pups, but can number up to 20. The mortality rate for African painted dog pups is 64 percent in the first year of life. At the turn of the 20th century there were more than 500,000 painted dogs in 39 countries. Today, there are only 3,000 dogs in Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa combined.