African wild dog pups meet public at Al Ain park

Litter is achievement for conservation and breeding programme. The park's desert carnivore conservation programme also includes sand cats, Arabian leopards, cheetahs and African lions.

Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, 08 February 2011:  Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort (AWPR) today announced that the zooÕs six African wild dog pups are now ready to leave the den where they were cared for by their mother since their birth in November 2010. All six pups are out on exhibit together with their parents and other pack members Ð a truly enjoyable and fascinating time for visitors as they can watch the mature dogs teaching the pups how to hunt.
Credit: Courtesy Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort
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AL AIN // Six African wild dog pups born at the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort are on display with their parents and other members of their pack.

Bred in captivity, their birth last November is being hailed a success for the resort's breeding programme.

The park's closed environment, which minimises disturbances and offers opportunities for detailed care and observation, has afforded the litter the best start in life, said Farshid Mehrdadfar, the facility's animal collection manager.

"The African wild dog is regarded as one of the endangered species among carnivores and is recognised by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature," Mr Mehrdadfar said.

"Breeding them in captivity is quite an achievement. Reproduction is seasonal and when new packs form, the alpha pair may not mate immediately. We are glad that the mother has delivered such a healthy litter of pups."

African wild dogs belong to a family of species that includes jackals, foxes, wolves and domestic dogs. They are sometimes confused with hyenas, but are smaller in stature.

Once distributed throughout sub-Saharan Africa, their dramatic decline has been caused by poaching, habitat loss, reduction in prey and disease such as rabies and distemper, the park said.

Their most viable populations exist in southern African countries such as Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Their nomadic nature means determining their exact numbers and location is all but impossible.

The park's desert carnivore conservation programme also includes sand cats, Arabian leopards, cheetahs and African lions.