African painted dogs are on the move

Rafiki was one of four African painted dogs relocated to the Houston Zoo from Binder Park Zoo. Courtesy Binder Park Zoo

Four male African painted dogs at Binder Park Zoo now have a new home at the Houston Zoo as part of the Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

Modo, Rafiki, Tamu and Wiki will travel by truck in special crates to the Houston Zoo this month

“It’s going to be hard to see these guys go,” said Kathryn Sippel, curator of collections at Binder Park Zoo. “We have cared for them since birth, watched them grow and develop personalities. To see the dynamics of their pack evolve has been a rare and fascinating experience. We are fortunate to be the only accredited zoo in the state to have this incredibly unique species and we know that they are a guest favorite. But the time has come for them to move on, create their own pack and contribute to the conservation of their species.” 

The Species Survival Plans are cooperative population management and conservation programs for selected species. 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.

The four African painted dogs were part of a litter of 11 pups that were born at the zoo on Nov. 30, 2018. The other dogs will remain at the zoo and they will be separated into two groups. 

Binder Park Zoo has had African painted dogs in its collection since 1998.  The zoo opened a new painted dog habitat in Wild Africa in 2017 and it was funded by donations from Frankie, John and Anne Zanetti and the Santo, Maria, Frankie & John Zanetti Foundation in honor of Andrew Zanetti and Frankie Zanetti.

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