Endangered African Painted Dog pups frolic at Audubon Zoo

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - They're endangered - only 5,000 are left in the world. But you can see 10 newborns up close at the Audubon Zoo.

"Today is only the second day they've ever been on grass so they're super excited about that," said Bill Smith with the Audubon Zoo. "They're very endangered, these guys, there's only 5,000 left in the wild, mainly, because of humans who have decided that African Painted Dogs have a bad reputation, mainly, from the ranchers, the ranchers look at them as pest animals that are going to kill their livestock, Painted Dogs are way afraid of humans, if you avoid them they'll avoid you, but, they have a very bad reputation in Africa which is causing their numbers to dwindle."

This is the first time ever that African Painted Dogs have been bred and born at the Audubon Zoo.

"There's about a hundred or so institutions across North America that have Painted Dogs, but only a fourth of those are even breeding, mainly because they have such a complex social structure. They're female dominated, so the female runs the pack," said Smith.

Their proud parents are Sienna and Pax.

"The fact that we had all 10 and all 10 have survived is very significant, it's very viable for the population in captivity, so that there's a new blood line cause these guys are first-time parents," said Smith. "Once they're a year old we'll probably have to disperse the females to other zoos cause it's a female dominated society, cause the daughters will probably try to take over for the mother. So what will happen is they will get sent to other zoos to be bred with other males so that genetic line can continue."

If you want to see the dogs while they're still small, the zoo recommends doing so in the next three to four months because they grow fast.

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