Yorkshire Wildlife Park is deeply saddened by the news that Thabo, the mother of two beautiful African Painted Dog puppies, has passed away.
The rare breed of African Painted Hunting Dog puppies are doing well, as illustrated by this lovely photograph, taken by Stephen Corbett, of the pair playing in the sun at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, despite the sadness of losing their mother.
Lehana and Lembani, who were born two months ago, and are being cared for by other members of the pack, who are stepping in providing the care and protection of the pack and acting as a close-knit family.
The birth of the pups was a conservation landmark in the fight to save the species, whose numbers in the wild have dropped from 50,000 to less than 5,000 over the last decade. The animals are one of Africa’s most endangered mammals, as a result of growing human populations and habitat deconstruction.
The lively pair – Lehana is female, Lembani male – represent a positive future for the species and park staff report that they are healthy and doing well.
Dr Matt Hartley, Head of Animals, at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, said: “It is very sad that Thabo has passed away, however, the painted dogs are one of very few animals that will care for any weaker pups within the pack. This has shown through the pup’s siblings taking the youngsters under their wings and caring for them.”
Painted dogs – which have distinctive coat patterns of brown, white, red and yellow – have a strong pack bond, with the fittest often hunting to provide food for the sick and elderly.
The pack lives on a specially created reserve at the award winning park, at Branton, Nr Doncaster which replicates their native habitat with space to roam and play and secluded areas where they can build dens and shelter.