DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – You can’t adopt them, but you can go visit them soon.
The Dallas Zoo is bringing back three endangered African painted dogs, a species the zoo hasn’t had since 1962.
African painted dogs are one of the most social mammals on earth, with the most structured, organized hierarchy of any carnivorous species, the Dallas Zoo said in a news release.
“African painted dogs are an incredibly intelligent, fascinating species and we know our guests are going to fall in love with these pack animals,” said Harrison Edell, Dallas Zoo’s Executive Vice President of Animal Care and Conservation. “As Africa’s most successful hunters, they’re also very nurturing – they work together for the welfare of the whole pack and care for the young and the ill, so no member is left behind.”
The Dallas Zoo will care for one 8-year-old female named Ola, and two 2-year-old brothers, Jata and Mzingo, making them the only African painted dogs in North Texas.
Guests can meet the trio starting Monday, June 17. They can be found in the former cheetah habitat next to the lions in the Giants of the Savanna. (The cheetahs have moved to the mandrill habitat, which is better suited for them as geriatric animals. The mandrills are now living at Primate Place in a habitat that is specially designed for monkeys.)
Ola hails from the Brookfield Zoo and was the first dog to enter the habitat today (June 12) in the Giants of the Savanna. The two males are coming from The Wilds, a private, nonprofit safari park managed by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and will join Ola later this week.
“This is one of the most delicate introductions we’ve ever done because African painted dogs have such an intricate social network. We have to ensure there is little disruption to their hierarchy,” said Keith Zdrojewski, Dallas Zoo’s Curator of Carnivores and Primates. “Ola will naturally assume the alpha female role, and one of the brothers will need to step up to the alpha male role. We’re excited to watch this pack grow and bond together – they’re going to be amazing ambassadors for their endangered species.”
African painted dogs are known for their large, round ears, and mottled pattern of black, yellow, brown, and white fur that helps make the pack look larger, which confuses prey and predators. Their scientific name, Lycaon pictus, means “painted wolf,” but they are not a wolf or a dog – they are a unique species that is the only member of their genus. They live and hunt in packs and have tremendous endurance and stamina to pursue their prey for miles without tiring. Operating as a single unit, they are the most efficient predators in Africa, being successful about 80 percent of the time.
African painted dogs are one of the most endangered carnivores, with fewer than 6,000 dogs remaining in parts of southern and eastern Africa. Their numbers continue to decline due to habitat loss, shooting by ranchers to protect their livestock, disease, and more. There are currently 136 individuals living in U.S. zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.