Celebrating Seniors - African Wild Dogs
Aging and Active
The pack of African wild dogs at the south end of Regenstein African Journey is also a family. The two dogs in the group—dominant Saturn and subordinate Flag—are brothers from the same litter.
The fact that this litter came into the world in 1999 means that both dogs are geriatric for their species. “You can compare African wild dogs to average-to-large–sized domestic dogs,” says Zoological Manager Mark Kamhout. “When they get to be around 10, that’s pretty old.
These old dogs haven’t needed many new tricks to keep them healthy. Keepers provide soft hay bedding for a nice cushion at naptime, but beyond that the animals haven’t required any special accommodations. They still chew bones, sniff scents and rip apart paper-mache containers to get at the treats inside.
Regular preventive care helps maintain their health. A special scale beneath the floor of their transfer chute lets animal care staff get regular weights to ensure the dogs aren’t getting too heavy or too thin. Annual physical exams also provide an in-depth look at how they’re doing, from tooth to tail.
This approach to care may sound familiar to pet owners—even if African wild dogs are an endangered species native to sub-Saharan Africa. Still, the zoo’s pair aren’t so different from their domestic counterparts in some respects. “They generally prefer sleeping, taking it easy and eating,” says Kamhout.
by James Seidler • Originally published September 21, 2011
Join us to celebrate all the zoo’s seniors! Sundays in September will be dedicated to special chats highlighting the exceptional care provided to the zoo’s elder statesmen.
September 4, 11, 18 & 25