Rare African Painted Dog Pups Born at the Cincinnati Zoo

Posted January 9, 2015

CINCINNATI, OH (January 9, 2015) –“Imara (ee-MAH-rah),” the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s two-year-old African painted dog, has given birth to a wiggling pile of pups! Keepers have not settled on an exact number of pups in the litter but are saying that it’s between seven and ten, which is the average for a first-time mom. The first pup arrived early on Monday, January 5, with a steady stream of pups appearing throughout the day until the last one emerged at 9:50p.m.  The pack will be bonding in their indoor den before venturing outside.  The Zoo will post “pupdates” on its website, Facebook page, and on Twitter, using #CZBGPups.

“It’s been 30 years since painted dog pups were born at the Cincinnati Zoo, and none of the pups from that litter survived. So, if all goes well, these will be the first pups of this species to grow up here. This pack will, no doubt, inspire our guests to care about the plight of these endangered dogs,” said Thane Maynard, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Zoo.

Painted Dog Valley, which opened last summer at the Cincinnati Zoo, is home to Imara and “Brahma (brah-muh),” an eight-year-old male that was brought to the Zoo on a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) management committee.  They were introduced in early September, 2014, and have been compatible mates since then.

In the wild, and here at the Cincinnati Zoo, painted dogs are highly social and live in a close-knit pack. Brahma was right there in the action as Imara was giving birth. Josh Charlton, Curator of Mammals, said “We observed Brahma standing alongside and grooming Imara as she was giving birth.  Once each pup was on the ground he was right there with her cleaning it off and welcoming it to the world.  Since then, Brahma gets as close as Imara will allow and regularly sticks his head in the den to check on the pups.”

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.

African painted dogs are known for their large, round ears and beautifully “painted”, multi-colored coats.  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.

To continue to connect Zoo visitors with Africa, the Cincinnati Zoo, along with the Angel Fund, supports the conservation of African painted dogs and other wildlife in southern Tanzania through the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP).  The RCP works with local communities to ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park. The third largest African painted dog population lives in the Ruaha region and is also home to 10% of Africa’s lions.  The RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras, or camera traps.  The project aims to gather baseline data on carnivore numbers and ecology and work with the local communities to reduce human-carnivore conflict.