Endangered African Painted Dogs Welcomed at Los Angeles Zoo - NBC Southern California

Endangered African Painted Dogs Welcomed at Los Angeles Zoo

Only about 6,600 African painted dogs live in the wild, and 72 live in U.S. zoos.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    LA Zoo Welcomes Endangered African Painted Dogs

    Three African painted dogs, the second-most endangered carnivore in Africa, are being introduced to visitors at the Los Angeles Zoo, the zoo said in a news release on Wednesday, June 29, 2016. (Published Thursday, June 30, 2016)

    A family of African painted dogs, one of Africa's most endangered carnivores, recently settled into their new home at the Los Angeles Zoo. 

    The African painted dogs traveled to LA from the Oklahoma City Zoo in April and went on public display about a month ago. The small family comprises one male, named Maji, and his two female siblings, Ayana and Zahra.

    "These beautiful siblings are young, active, and alert," said Dorothy Belanger, senior animal keeper at the LA Zoo in a news release on Wednesday. "They are not only strong and fast, but also a very social and caring community of individuals that work together for the welfare of the whole pack."

    The animals are distinguished by their rounded, oversized ears and mottled fur. Their coat's unique black, brown, yellow and white marbling confuses prey and predators by making a pack look larger than it is. 

    LA Zoo officials had put out a request for African painted dogs, and the Oklahoma City Zoo happened to be seeking a home for theirs, said April Spurlock, an LA Zoo spokeswoman.

    As pups the animals were nursed by a golden retriever named Lilly, after being born in 2014 to an inexperienced mother, according to the Oklahoma City Zoo's Facebook page. 

    In a fenced off plot of grassy dirt, the siblings can be seen galloping across rocks and around trees — shoving mouths and limbs at each other, strolling off to stand still and turn their ears.

    Neither wolf nor dog, the species has existed as the only member of their genus for more than three million years, according to the news release. They are some of Africa's most successful hunters.

    Nonetheless, the species has lost numbers due to a variety of deadly forces: poachers' snares and ranchers' bullets, habitat loss, traffic and disease. About 6,600 currently live in the wild and 72 live in U.S. zoos.

    Visitors can observe the animals' exhibit near the Gorilla Grill at the Los Angeles Zoo.

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