Photo: LA ZOO

The Los Angeles Zoo is excited to welcome three African painted dogs to the collection, the second most endangered carnivore in Africa. The nearly two-year-old siblings, one male and two females, came from the Oklahoma City Zoo in April and can now be seen by Zoo guests out in their habitat getting to know their new surroundings.  

“I’m very excited we will continue to display African painted dogs here at the L.A. Zoo,” said Dorothy Belanger, Senior Animal Keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “These beautiful siblings are young, active, and alert which makes them very fun to observe. They are not only strong and fast, but also a very social and caring community of individuals that work together for the welfare of the whole pack.”

Although their scientific name, Lycaon pictus, means “painted wolf,” this unique animal is not a wolf or a dog but rather a unique species that has existed for over three million years as the only member of their genus. African painted dogs have a mottled pattern of black, brown, yellow, and white fur that is unique to each individual animal and serves to make the pack look larger which confuses their predators and prey. They have long legs and streamlined bodies that contribute to their speed and endurance and oversized, rounded ears for enhanced hearing and temperature regulation. They range from about 24 to 30 inches in size and can weigh between 37 and 79 pounds.

While this carnivorous species is known as the most successful hunters in Africa, their numbers continue to decline due to reasons out of their control such as habitat loss, poacher’s snares, shooting by ranchers, vehicular traffic, and diseases such as rabies and distemper. There are only around 6,600 African painted dogs existing in the wild and around 72 living in zoos in the United States. Guests can now view the African painted dog siblings in their habitat near Gorilla Grill, weather permitting.