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African Hunting Dog NOW at Exmoor Zoo

Ask any person to name a wild dog and the first name that comes to mind is the enigmatic painted or hunting dog from Africa!

Lovely big black round ears and” painted” coat patterns of black, brown and white which give every individual their own unique pattern, African hunting dogs have got to be the most renown and remembered wild dog! From the television programs that have documented their lives everybody can immediately recognize this dog and immediately feel for their fight for survival!

It has taken Exmoor Zoo since they were granted planning permission to develop their enclosure, three years to be able to bring this wonderful dog to Devon!

Danny Reynolds, one of the partners at the zoo remarked.” This wild dog of Africa has got to be potentially one of the most likely species of dogs to become extinct in the wild in the near future! With less than 1200 breeding adults alive and these animals scattered in segmented groups across sub-Sahara Africa in packs isolated from one another, time is beginning to run out for the hunting dogs!”

Hunting or painted dogs range across large wild untouched areas in the wild and never stay for long in any area. They come into contact with us, our farming, our livestock, our pets and roads and slowly through the spread of rabies, parvo viruses, collision with vehicles and the threat they pose to our livestock they are consistently killed.

Thanks to the Aspinall Foundation at Port Lympne Wildlife Park in Kent, three of these highly endangered dogs can now be seen at the zoo. The three are all litter sisters born at Port Lympne just after Christmas in 2014. At about a year and a half of age they are not yet fully mature but 3 days after their arrival they are beginning to settle into Exmoor zoo and get used to the new noises and of course the change of weather with the confidence of their parents!

The zoo’s curator Mr. Derek Gibson explains. “Today’s role of a zoo is not just to exhibit animals but the right animals, those that need the effort of all of us to be able to stay alive in the near future. This is why we have joined the European Association of Zoos & Aquaria (EAZA) as well as our British counterpart the British Association of zoos & Aquaria (BIAZA). By doing this and complying with their requirements as well as our national laws we have been trusted to look after this simply amazing dog”!

The zoo hopes the Hunting dogs should now be with them for at least the next ten years as they often get to 12-14 years of age in captivity (compared to 5 or 6 in the wild). Surprisingly enough feeding them is very straight forward as they will eat virtually any meat and unlike many of the big cats at the zoo will enjoy some lamb and beef on occasion! Looking into their future the animals may be used for breeding as part of the European endangered breeding program but the important fact is that by helping conserve and allowing everybody in Devon to see them their plight in the wild is understood and future visitors to the zoo will be able to witness first hand Africa’s greatest hunting dog!

More about Exmoor Zoo here


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