Keepers at West Midland Safari Park are celebrating the arrival of three incredibly cute, endangered dhole (Asiatic wild dog) pups.
The three boisterous youngsters were born on 9 March, but keepers have only recently met the pups face-to-face, as for the first ten weeks of their lives, they were kept hidden away in their den by seven-year-old mum, Berri.
Luckily, staff were alerted to the pups’ appearance when they noticed some tiny, wriggling fluff-balls, being carefully washed by their dad, Douglas, on the dhole house CCTV.
Like a domestic puppy, the dhole pups had their first veterinary check, microchips and vaccinations at ten weeks old. This also gave staff the chance to see what gender the pups were too – two boys and a girl.
This was fantastic news for Head Keeper, Lawrence Bates, who had already decided to name the pups after three of his team – Huw, Harry and Holly. This also fits with the Park’s naming practice that every animal born in 2019, must start with the letter ‘H’.
Senior Carnivore Keeper, Huw Owen-Jones said, “It is an honour to lend our names to such brilliant animals. Dholes are classed as ‘endangered’ in the wild, so it’s great news for the species that we have such a successful breeding programme at the Park.
“The three pups are already developing individual personalities – Huw and Harry have already started squabbling, whilst Holly is a bit more reserved and sits back and takes it all in. Mum Berri has done a great job and is a really relaxed parent, taking it all in her stride. Douglas (the pups’ dad) on the other hand is very overprotective and seems to keep watch over them more than mum. The pups had their first day out on the Safari this week and Douglas was always nearby. He’s great at taking them food and ensures they are always looked after.”
The dholes at the Safari Park are part of a European Breeding Programme, which marks a second success, following the birth of the first litter of pups in 2015. They bring the total number of dholes at the Park to 11.
Packs of dholes are very social and work together to care for all members. The pups are lucky enough to have lots of ‘aunties and uncles’ who bring them food, play with them and look after them. One member of the pack, Bella, even spent a lot of time in the den when they were first born, helping to keep the pups warm.
Dholes are classed as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), due to threats such as habitat loss, depletion of prey and persecution, stemming from retaliatory killings due to livestock predation.
The dhole pups can be seen in Wild Woods, part of the four-mile safari which is included in the standard admission charge of £24.00 for adults, £19.00 for children aged 3-15 and £22.00 for concessions. Children under the age of three are free of charge. Admission includes a Free Return Ticket. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.