The Houston Zoo is Protecting African Painted Dogs in the Wild!

The HoP. Dog029083uston Zoo loves its African Painted dogs and is committed to doing whatever we can to save them in the wild!  We partner with organizations that work tirelessly to ensure the protection of painted dogs in Africa and we strive to enhance their incredible work by providing many forms of support.

Next week we will be providing training for a Zimbabwean African painted dog researcher at the Houston Zoo.  MK is a conservationist from a local community in Zimbabwe employed by an organization called Painted Dog Research.  He will spend time with our veterinary staff and facilities staff to strengthen his skills and knowledge in animal care and construction.  He needs to have a good understanding for animal care when he is assisting other researchers with darting (shooting a dart that delivers a sedative) and providing medical care to wild painted dogs.  A solid understanding of construction will allow him to assist his team at Painted Dog Research and local communities with maintenance and building.  MK is on the front lines saving painted dogs and the Houston Zoo is proud to enhance his efforts.

MK with other researchers in the wild
MK with other researchers in the wild

One of the serious threats that faces painted dogs in Africa is being entangled in wire traps that are intended for animals like antelope.  The dogs get caught in them when they chase their prey. It is sort of like dolphins getting caught in tuna nets- the traps are not actually intended for the dogs like the nets aren’t intended for the dolphins.


Painted Dog Research have used radio tracking collars  to follow the dogs for over 20 years and have witnessed numerous mortalities from the wire traps.  They designed a specialized tracking collar with a metal plate that provides some protection for the throat and neck from the wire, but staff at Painted Dog Research believed the design could be improved to be even more effective.  They approached the Houston Zoo for assistance with a new idea to give further protection to painted dogs.


Our skilled staff take pride in their work to save wildlife.  Our facilities team jumped at the opportunity to design clips that could be attached to the tracking collar to protect the dog’s necks from the wire.   They created several prototype collars with various sizes and styles of the clips to be tested on trained domestic dogs.  The testing will  reveal an effective and safe design that can hopefully be produced this year.

photo 2
A protective clip design for tracking collar
Collar prototypes with two different clip designs.

You can save animals here in Texas from being trapped in plastic traps that can be just as deadly as the wire traps the dogs face.  When plastic bags or plastic six-pack can holders end up in our environment, animals can ingest or become entangled in them.  Use canvas bags and remember to cut every hole of those six-pack can holders to save animals in Texas!

Every time you visit the Zoo you save animals in the wild.  Thank you! A portion of your admission makes it possible for us to protect wildlife from extinction.

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