Today, the African Painted Dogs were treated to special birthday enrichment to honour their first trip around the sun.
The group entered their habitat and were met with exciting puzzles to break open, filled with delicious meaty treats.
Despite the physical similarities you might see with domestic dogs, the African Painted Dog is a completely unique and special carnivorous species.
Perth Zoo Manager of Zoology and African Painted Dog expert, John Lemon, said: “I’ve been passionate about African Painted Dogs nearly my entire life – I’m now going into my fourth decade learning about this animal, and every day I’m still learning.
“They are the most social, caring carnivore in the world; they will look after their weak, their sick, their injured.
“Usually, a pack will have one litter of pups a year, but every individual in the pack chips in to help raise them. You’ll see ‘aunties’ and ‘babysitters’ help with the young, teaching them the rules and how to survive.
“This morning as we’ve watched the pack enjoy their enrichment, you can see how they work together to hunt and enjoy the food inside.”
Not only do our adorable dogs delight visitors each day, but they act as important ambassador animals for the heartbreaking plight of the species in the wild.
Sadly, wild populations face increasing threats to survival. The individuals living in safe habitat within Perth Zoo are considered the lucky ones.
“Painted Dogs are the most persecuted carnivore in Africa,” John said.
“While wild dogs do face predation from lions, hyaenas or leopards, the biggest threat to this species is man through a loss of habitat and pressures from civilisation.
“They are indiscriminately shot by farmers, caught in snares or become victim to road accidents.”
Perth Zoo works closely with the Painted Dog Conservation Inc to support dogs in the wild and bolster populations.
“When Painted Dog Conservation Inc started more than 20 years ago the number of dogs in the wild was roughly 2500, but today they are up towards 6500, that means we are having a direct impact on the conservation of the species,” John said.
“In the wild, it’s a very hard life for a painted dog due to the ongoing threats – if an individual can live up to five years it is doing quite well.
“My pledge is to save this species from extinction. If I can see that in my lifetime, we’ll have achieved something great.”
Want to help safeguard this special species? Send a pawsome birthday donation to our pups through the African Painted Dog Project.