Binder Park Zoo announces birth of 11 rare, African painted dog pups

    One of the 11 pups born to Ghost and Verizon at Binder Park Zoo. Born blind, the pups have now opened their eyes and are starting to venture around the den area. Zoo staff will make first contact with the pups around 6 weeks to give the an exam, determine genders, and give vaccinations. (WWMT/Binder Park Zoo)

    Binder Park Zoo announced its newest additions to the zoo are 11 African painted dog pups born Nov. 30, 2018, to parents Ghost and Verizon, the zoo's resident African painted dogs.

    Born with their eyes closed, all 11 pups have now opened their eyes and appear to be healthy and thriving, zoo officials said. The pups are receiving attentive care from their mother, Ghost.

    Zoo staff have been monitoring the family through closed circuit cameras.

    “Zoo staff has been maintaining a hands-off approach, giving the family unit privacy and the opportunity to grow and bond without unnecessary intervention,” said Brett Linsley, manager of wildlife, conservation and education. “Ghost has demonstrated excellent mothering skills and since painted dogs have a complicated social pack structure, it’s preferable to allow that critical bonding and development to happen as naturally as possible.”

    When they are about 6 weeks old, the zoo staff will examine the pups and give them their first vaccinations, determine their genders and do a physical examination, staff veterinarian Dr. Kim Thompson said.

    Previously, Binder Park has had one successful breeding of African painted dogs. The zoo opened its painted dog exhibit in 1998 and remodeled it in recent years. The brand new exhibit is part of the Wild Africa section of the zoo, with a lot of space and natural with a pool and multiple viewing areas. The exhibit was designed with a birthing den in hopes of another successful breeding. The exhibit was previously located in the east zoo, but the new exhibit was made possible by the generous donations of Frankie, Johm, and Anne Zanetti and the Santo, Maria, Frankie, and John Zanetti Foundation in honor of Andrew and Frankie Zanetti.

    Painted dogs are highly endangered and the birth of the 11 pups is considered a success, but zoo officials said there is still a lot of work to be done.

    ”Painted dogs are one of the most endangered animals in all of Africa, rendering our conservation efforts extremely important,” said Diane Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Binder Park Zoo. “While there remains much work to be done, the birth of these 11 pups is a success made possible by an important collaboration between Binder Park Zoo staff and the AZA Species Survival Plan, and the generosity of the Zanetti family.”

    Collaboration between AZA, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, along with the Zanetti Foundation are helping make the future generations of African painted dogs possible.

    Guests can see the pups with their parents when the zoo opens for its 2019 season April 17. In the meantime, guests can keep up on their progress on the zoo's website and Facebook pages.

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