Fox-like Asiatic Wild Dogs Now in New Habitat
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A pack of three male dhole (Cuon alpinus), a species of Asiatic wild dog, has debuted at the Bronx Zoo and can be seen in their new habitat adjacent to the Himalayan Highlands.
The three dholes are siblings that were born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 2016. Exhibit times may vary while the animals acclimate to their new home.
“We chose to renovate and repurpose the polar bear exhibit to create a dhole habitat that will give us the opportunity to educate and inspire our guests about an endangered species,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “In addition to fostering an appreciation for the conservation needs of this species, this exhibit will highlight some of our work with dhole in the field. Our long-term plans include a breeding program to contribute to the sustainability of the population in AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) accredited zoos.”
Dholes are carnivores native to portions of southern and central Asia. They inhabit forests and grasslands in Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Lao; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; and Thailand. In the wild, they live in packs of about 12 animals, but packs of up to 40 individuals have been documented. They are social, but unlike some other wild canids, do not have a complex social hierarchy. The alpha male and female are normally the breeding pair and the rest of the pack largely consists of their offspring.
Dholes have a have fox-like appearance, with a brownish-red coat with a dark, bushy tail. In some regions, populations have distinctive white patches around the neck, chest, belly and feet. Adult dhole weigh between 25 and 45 pounds.
Dhole numbers in the wild are decreasing due to human activities, including land development resulting in habitat loss, hunting, and diseases from domestic dogs. Their wild populations are severely fragmented and they are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to the IUCN, estimates indicate there are fewer than 2,500 adult dholes remaining in the wild.
The Wildlife Conservation Society is working in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia to protect dholes and their habitat. WCS scientists have helped identify where dholes need better protection by studying prey species. More recently, field conservationists studied dholes over an eight-year period using motion-activated field cameras, scat DNA, and tracks.
The arrival of the dhole at the Bronx Zoo will be featured in the fourth season of THE ZOO, premiering on Animal Planet in 2020.
The renovation of the dhole exhibit was generously supported by Nessa & Steve Lear.