Seven rare African painted dogs born at Chester Zoo have been named.
The playful puppies, who were born two months ago to mum K’mana, were each given African-inspired monikers after the zoo’s carnivore keepers confirmed the new litter comprises of three boys and four girls.
The trio of males – Bakuru, Kendi and Hasani – and quartet of females – Mosi, Nuru, Eyasi and Bahati – are the first of their kind to be bred at the zoo.
Their arrivals mark a significant boost to the international breeding programme which is working to try and boost numbers of the endangered species, as conservationists fear as few as 1,500 breeding dogs now remain across Africa.
African painted dogs take their name from their irregular mottled coat, which features patches of yellow, black, brown and white fur.
No two dogs have exactly the same markings, which is useful for trying to identify different pack members in the wild and just as helpful to the zoo’s keepers who chose the names for the four sisters and three brothers.
Team manager of carnivores at the zoo Dave Hall said: “It’s fascinating to watch the pups play and the family dynamic of the pack develop.
“The adult dogs are very protective of the youngsters and dad, Ville, is extremely attentive to them.
“From the start, he took food into the den for K’mana when she was suckling the pups and he’s now doing his bit to discipline them and police how much they’re all eating.
“As they grow in size, they grow in confidence. The family dynamic is different every day and it’s great to see some strong bonds forming between individuals.”
The African painted dog is one of the world’s most endangered carnivores and is facing a real struggle for survival.
They are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Conflict with humans, where they are hunted and poisoned for killing livestock, and exposure to infectious diseases transferred from domestic dogs are key factors in their demise.
As well as helping conservationists working in Africa to re-establish viable populations of painted dogs, bred in special protected breeding areas, in Tanzania, the zoo’s Act for Wildlife campaign is also raising vital funds to protect painted dogs from extinction in Africa.
Visit www.actforwildlife.org.uk for more information or to text AFRI03 £5 to 70070 to donate to the conservation charity’s campaign.