Zoo dingoes Naya and Mattie became the proud parents of seven adorable puppies on January 30. The four male and three female pups are the first dingoes to be born at the zoo since 1988.
“All of the pups appear strong and healthy, and Naya and Mattie are excellent parents,” says Elaine Kirchner, Australian Adventure Area Manager. All the pups doubled in weight after just a week.
For now, the puppies live indoors in a cozy nest box. When Naya enters the nest box, the puppies whimper and crawl to her belly, where they nurse. The pups’ eyes will open at around two weeks of age, and they may begin to venture out of the nest box to explore the dingoes’ heated indoor quarters.
Mattie and Naya are one of only about 75 pairs of pure dingoes worldwide, so the pups are an important addition to the pure dingo population. In Australia, dingoes have widely hybridized with domestic dogs, so pure dingoes are rare.
Naya’s litter of pups is notable not only for its size (most dingo litters have just three or four pups), but for its coloration: The litter includes three ginger-colored pups, two cream-colored pups, and two black and tan pups. Ninety percent of wild dingoes are ginger-colored, like Mattie and Naya. Eight percent are black and tan, and just two percent are cream-colored. Having all three color types present in the same litter is unusual.
Like all large litters, there is a wide size difference among the pups, with the largest pup (a black and tan male) weighing nearly three times as much as the smallest pup (a black and tan female). “Even though the smallest pup is tiny, she is very feisty,” says Kirchner. “She fights her way through the crowd right to Naya’s belly, and has been gaining weight steadily.” The puppies have not yet been named.
Zoo officials are unsure how many of the puppies will be in the exhibit this season. “No matter how many pups are on display, the dingo exhibit will be action-packed this summer,” says Kirchner. Stay tuned for puppy updates, and plan to visit them when the zoo opens on April 21!
Click here to see a video of the dingo pups and learn more about dingoes.
Click on the photos below to enlarge.