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The Binder Park Zoo is celebrating the birth of 11 rare African painted dog pups born last year at their facility in Battle Creek, officials announced Wednesday.

The pups were born on Nov. 30 and are receiving attentive care from their mother, Ghost, and father, Verizon, in a birthing den behind the scenes at the zoo. 

Born blind, the pups’ eyes are now open. Zoo staff has observed that the entire litter appear healthy and normal as they venture from the den area to explore their surroundings.

“Our first physical contact with the pups will be when they are around six weeks. At that time we will perform a physical examination, determine the sex of the pups, and administer their first vaccination,” staff veterinarian Dr. Kim Thompson said in a press release.

Zoo staff has been monitoring their activity closely through surveillance cameras to give the parents and the litter their space. 

“Zoo staff has been maintaining a hands-off approach, giving the family unit privacy and the opportunity to grow and bond without unnecessary intervention,” Brett Linsley, Manager of Wildlife Conservation and Education, said in a statement. “Ghost has demonstrated excellent mothering skills and since painted dogs have a complicated social pack structure, it’s preferable to allow that critical bonding and development to happen as naturally as possible.”

African painted dogs are one of the most endangered carnivores in Africa, with an estimated global population of less than 5,000 and declining due to human conflict, habitat fragmentation and widespread diseases like distemper and rabies, according to the zoo.

They are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

Also known as cape hunting dogs, wild dogs or painted wolves, these dogs are named for their unusually marked coats of brown, black, yellow and white — each unique to the individual. Painted dogs are intelligent and highly social animals as well as successful pack hunters, the zoo says. 

Guests can see the pups when the zoo opens for the season on April 17. In the meantime check out their progress in this video. 

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Binder Park Zoo staff has been monitoring activity through cameras to allow the pair and their rare litter of African painted pups space. The Detroit News

Verizon is 11 years old and one of a trio of brothers that arrived at the Binder Park Zoo in 2012 from the Bronx Zoo. Ghost was born in the United Kingdom in 2014 and later transferred to the Houston Zoo. She joined the Binder Park Zoo pack in 2017 as a breeding recommendation from a Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Binder Park Zoo has had African painted dogs since 1998 with one successful birth during that time.The zoo opened a new painted dog exhibit in 2017. 

srahal@detroitnews.com
Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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