CINCINNATI — Staff at the Cincinnati Zoo are about to have their hands full with the adoption of a large litter of pups and their mother, zoo officials announced Friday.
The zoo is taking in ten pups from the Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis, Missouri, where two females gave birth to a total of 23 pups within days of each other in November.
This was an unconventional situation, the zoo explained, because a male African painted dog will typically breed with the "alpha female" -- but in this case he bred with two females, leading to a baby boom.
"The male had a hard time choosing a favorite female in this case, leaving EWC with too many pups to manage in separate spaces," said Cincinnati Zoo’s Curator of Mammals and Vice Coordinator of the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan, Christina Gorsuch.
The zoo is making room for the new pups in Painted Dog Valley -- a habitat for the animals -- by caring for its five current residents off site. Painted Dog Valley opened in 2014. Since then, two large litters have been born, ten in 2015 and 12 in 2016. Most of the painted dogs have been moved to other zoos, and the remaining five will be transferred as well.
"We’re excited to work with pups again and glad that we could help EWC by providing space and expertise," Gorsuch said.
Mom, Akili, and her pups, five males and five females, are expected to arrive in Cincinnati in a few weeks.
African painted dogs were once found throughout Africa, zoo officials said. Today they are considered one of the most endangered carnivores in Africa with fewer than 5,000 dogs surviving.