Animal lovers are being invited to visit one of the world’s rarest breeds of dog at Chester Zoo.
The zoo is home to about 35,000 animals including African Painted Dogs, otherwise known as African Wild Dogs or Lycaon Pictus.
According to reports, there is only about 1,000 African Painted Dogs left in the world.
The highly social breed hunt in large packs and their diet primarily consists of impala, kudu, springbok and wildebeest, according to Chester Zoo.
They live in fission-fusion societies meaning they will move in and out of packs. Pack sizes can range between two and 30 members, with a monogamous breeding pair leading the group.
Dr Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo told TeamDogs : “There will be an alpha male and alpha female who’ll be dominant and generally will be the only pair to breed, while the rest of the pack help to look after the young.
“They’re supreme predators, working together to bring down prey many times their size.”
The dogs, which have been named after the unique patterns on their bodies, have large, round ears which can pick up calls from other dogs far away and can move to indicate directions for other members of the pack.
Dr Davis added: “As one of Africa’s most threatened carnivores, they’re listed as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species.
“These carnivores are usually found in isolated regions of eastern and southern Africa in grassy plains, woodland or semi desert areas.
Are you TeamDogs?
“They get their name from their irregular mottled coat, which features patches of yellow, black, brown and white fur, patterns that confuse prey by making a pack look larger than it is.”
“These impressive African dogs can reach speeds of more than 44 miles per hour, making them one of Africa’s most formidable predators.”
The dogs will chase their prey until it tires and share their meal with the other pack members, letting the pups eat first.
They need to bring enough food to feed the pups and the mother as she will stay with them in an underground den while they’re suckling.
Pack members are known to switch roles and some dogs will stay behind to protect the pups while the others go hunting.
But now, unfortunately, African Painted Dog numbers have plummeted in the last 100 years as a result of human-wildlife conflict.
- Chester Zoo is open daily from 10am with free on-site parking. The Diamond Jubilee Quarter at the main entrance opens at 9.30am