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Behavioural Development for Zoo Wild Dogs

16 February 2005

Behavioural Development for Zoo Wild Dogs

Seven African Wild Dogs are about to experience a new form of play when they have access to their recently enhanced enclosure at Wellington Zoo this Thursday at 10:30am following the installation of a water feature in the enclosure.

Designed by Wellington Zoo Horticultural team, Tony Kelly and Topi Wirihana, the water feature resembles a naturalistic pond that the dogs are likely to use for playing and cooling off.

“The topography of the land meant that constructing the feature was quite a difficult job. That area of the enclosure is solid rock, so we had to hand dig a hole with pick axes and shovels, then it took us a week to construct the actual feature”.

Zoo Keeper, Dave French says “water is something the dogs enjoying splashing around in and it’s good enrichment for them”.

African Wild Dogs are olfactory animals, meaning they have a keen sense of smell. The recently extended enclosure (encompassing the new pond) means that the dogs now have the opportunity to develop their exploratory behaviour.

“We will alternate the dogs between the two sides of their enclosure to allow new smells to develop for the dogs to explore” comments Dave.

The Zoo’s seven wild dogs are part of an international breeding programme where the Zoo has been successful in rearing three pups from their dogs.

Dave says “The group is interacting well; at this stage we have two dominant adults, two subordinate adults and the pups – who are almost fully grown”.

Members of the Zoo Kids Club have also aided the wild dogs by developing dens in the enclosure that can be used as shelter from the sun.

Kids Club leader, Jo Turton says “Kids like to be involved in the Zoo; one of the areas the Kids Club has helped in has been developing dens for the dogs by placing mesh along the bottom of the dens and leaves over the top as protection from the sun”.


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