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African painted dogs make exhibit debut at Franklin Park Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of an extraordinary new species: African painted dogs. These magnificent canines have joined the Zoo's diverse array of wildlife, offering visitors a unique opportunity to learn about one of Africa's most fascinating and endangered species.

"We are thrilled to welcome back African painted dogs to Franklin Park Zoo and share their story with our visitors," said John Linehan, President and CEO of Zoo New England. "These animals are incredible ambassadors for their species, and through them we can further connect guests to the incredible biodiversity of our planet, build empathy, and hopefully inspire caring and action on behalf of African painted dogs and other wildlife that share their habitat.”

Guests who arrive through the Giraffe Entrance will notice the new faces immediately in the former spotted hyena habitat. Moremi and Madikwe are six-year-old sisters. They may look alike, but the coloring on their coats is unique to each individual, similar to a human fingerprint. Native to the vast savannas and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, African painted dogs are renowned for their strikingly vibrant coats, which boast an array of patterns and colors, making them one of nature's most visually striking predators.

Painted dogs face a medley of threats and are one of the most endangered carnivores in Africa. Once roaming across most of sub-Saharan Africa outside of the rainforest and desert regions, and numbering as many as 500,000 animals, there may be as few as 7,000 painted dogs remaining in the wild today. Shrinking habitats due to human expansion, as well as hunting and poaching, are some of the biggest threats to this species. Because of the low density of animals throughout a large range, their populations require much larger areas of land than other predators, making them more sensitive to habitat loss than other species. Protected wildlife corridors could have a significant positive impact for the continued survival of this species; conservation groups are working to reduce conflict between people and wildlife through education, awareness and training farmers in livestock management techniques that prevent predation.

In the wild, painted dogs live in packs, with a dominant male and female breeding pair. Average pack size ranges from 5 - 20 canines. Packs work as a group to hunt and care for young. These canines can run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.