Portrait of a predator

December 3, 2014

Pueblo Zoo ready to welcome
African painted dogs in 2015

 

 

BY ABBIE KRAUSE

 

Imagine, one of the most endangered predators on the planet: Long and lanky and built for speed, with huge ears for excellent hearing, the African painted dog is the ultimate hunting machine. 

 

These beautiful animals are driven by family values . . . where one goes, others follow. Everyone works cooperatively to support the pack. African painted dogs hunt in packs using different strategies depending on their prey. They may reach speeds of up to 41 mph over a mile in a sustained chase. 

 

Beautiful to behold, their Latin name means “painted wolf.” A pattern of splotches and splashes of black, different shades of brown and white markings is unique to each individual dog and gives it its common name: African painted dog. Each individual’s coat is unique, much like a thumbprint.

 

Dog or hyena?

African painted dogs are commonly mistaken for hyenas but, in fact, there are many differences, both physically and behaviorally. Some examples:

  • First, hyenas are not dogs. They are more closely related to cats and mongoose.

  • African painted dogs are much more communal in rearing their young. Unlike hyena dads, male African painted dogs take a paternal role in pup-rearing.

  • While painted dogs will go to great lengths to ensure the health of the pack, hyenas are far more aggressive. Though they may hunt together, they will compete within the clan for food and dominance.

  • While both populations have been significantly reduced due to threats, hyenas remain more widespread; African painted dogs are one of the world’s most endangered predators. Their dramatic decline has been due to human persecution, habitat loss, decline in prey species, and diseases such as rabies and distemper.

 

Now, imagine coming face-to-face with one of these exquisite, familyoriented predators at the Pueblo Zoo. In 2015, the zoo is planning to open its first major exhibit in seven years, bringing African painted dogs and DeBrazza’s monkeys to Pueblo. 

JOIN THE PACK - Learn how you can help bring these animals to Pueblo Zoo! Click here for more information.

 

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