ZooTampa at Lowry Park has worked tirelessly to protect endangered and threatened species. The residents on its ground happen to be some of the rarest, most fascinating and altogether adorable species on the planet. Case in point: A litter of African Painted dogs.
It’s the first litter from the parents, who came to the zoo earlier in the year as part of a collaborative species conservation program, according to a release from ZooTampa.
The species is native to sub-Saharan Africa where the population was dwindled to just around 6,600 and allegedly still declining due to the degradation of their natural environment, human conflict and disease.
Watch these endangered pups mature in Tampa
Zoo staff say the pups will stay close to their mother for the next several weeks before moving out of the den. Visitors will be able to observe the endangered pups grow and develop, as well as learn about the steps ZooTampa takes to protect all endangered animals.
“The birth of these pups is a significant step in helping save the population that is under severe threat,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, senior vice president and chief zoological officer at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. “When we welcomed Layla and Hatari to our zoo, our hope was for a healthy litter that will be part of AZA’s African Wild Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP) designed to help to save this important species.”
Distinctive fur helps confuse potential prey
When we say these pups are super freaking cute in their own unique way, we mean it. Their coats are all patterned slightly differently. That distinctive fur is where the species get their names from.
The zoo says that their multi-colored fur confuses prey by making the pack seem larger than it actually is. ZooTampa is home to roughly 1,300 animals currently, many of which are facing serious threats in the wild.
It also happens to be one of only a few zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) with African painted dogs.
ZooTampa is located at 1101 West Sligh Avenue. Want to visit? Click here to get discounted tickets to ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
*Cover photo by Matt Marriot Photography