Endangered African painted dog killed by his own pack at the Pueblo Zoo

Minzi, photo courtesy Pueblo Zoo
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PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV/Release from Pueblo Zoo) - An endangered African painted go was killed by its own pack at the Pueblo Zoo this week. The zoo released the following statement to the public:

Pueblo Zoo staff and volunteers mourn the sudden loss of one of its endangered African painted dogs today. Minzi, who has been with the Pueblo Zoo with his brother Hunter since July of 2015, died last night. The zoo recently had great success with introducing two new dogs to the pack, Akilah and Amara. Hunter and Akilah subsequently bred and have one puppy.

African painted dogs have the most complex social system in the canine world. Minzi and Hunter had their own dominance struggles prior to the introduction of the girls and, after the successful and overall uneventful introduction, Minzi began to be targeted by the pack. Removing Minzi from the pack, however, would mean he could likely never return. Even brief gaps in time away from the pack and changes in the composition of the pack can have unexpected and powerful impact on the social dynamics of the dogs. A solitary life for a painted dog is not a healthy one. Zoo staff have been following best practices based on input from other Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited professionals and the SSP (Species Survival Plan) to care for Minzi and best manage and monitor the pack’s behavior and Minzi’s condition. Though Minzi was able to find space to recover each time he had rows with the packs over the past months, the group took a mortal toll on him overnight.

This rare species of dogs is known to be unpredictable at times and, even when taking every precaution, it is impossible to predict all outcomes. Zoo staff are heartbroken at the loss of Minzi. Keepers are continuing to provide the best care for the pack to ensure its long-term health locally and hope for the species globally. Guests can see the pack as well as Hunter and Akilah’s pup on exhibit during regular zoo hours (weather dependent).

Questions you may have:

-Why were they all together / why not separate them?

-African painted dogs have extremely complex social systems. The dogs cannot thrive alone, and being separated from the pack even briefly can have unexpected and sometimes dangerous results.

·Are they similar to domestic dogs in behavior?

-African painted dogs cannot be compared with domestic dogs in regard to behavior/temperament or management. In addition to being wild animals, painted dogs are highly intelligent, powerful, and pose a mortal risk if humans are in the vicinity. Painted dogs have one of the strongest bites in the animal world, and one of the most complex social systems. They will not act as domestic dogs do, nor can they be managed using the same methods.