HOUSTON (Aug. 27, 2020) – Dogs are back! The Houston Zoo welcomed African painted dogs back to the Zoo after a three-year absence. The four male dogs moved to Houston from Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek, MI. Modo, Rafiki, Tamu and Wiki made the move as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The four were part of a litter of eleven pups that were born in Michigan on Nov. 30, 2018.
The dogs are offspring of Ghost, a painted dog who lived at the Houston Zoo before moving to Binder Park on a breeding recommendation.
Species Survival Plans are cooperative population management and conservation programs for selected species at North American zoos and aquariums. Each SSP carefully manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining captive population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. 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. They are currently listed as endangered by the
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
The Zoo has worked to protect African painted dogs in the wild for the past 10 years by providing support and training for local, African wildlife anti-poaching scouts that patrol thousands of kilometers of African painted dog habitat to protect this species from harm.
On the daily patrols the wildlife scouts arrest poachers and collect numerous illegal wire traps that are set to catch wildlife. In 2019, wildlife protection scouts we support in Kenya made four arrests for illegal wildlife poaching and removed 120 wire traps set for wildlife.
Guests visiting the Houston Zoo to see African painted dogs are also helping to save this species in Africa. A portion of every admission ticket membership is donated to conservation efforts dedicated to protecting animals in the wild.