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Al Ain zoo boasts of its six African wild dog puppies.

Summary: DUBAI -- The Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR) is set to showcase a precious litter of six African wild dog puppies to the public that were born in November 2010 as a part of the sanctuary's Desert Carnivore Conservation and Breeding Programme.

DUBAI -- The Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR) is set to showcase a precious litter of six African wild dog puppies to the public that were born in November 2010 as a part of the sanctuary's Desert Carnivore Conservation and Breeding Programme.

The species, whose scientific name is Lycaon pictus, had been officially listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List in 1990.

"The AWPR is the only zoo in the UAE that exhibits the African Wild Dogs and it is interesting to observe how these pups will behave in a social environment. Reproduction is seasonal, and when new packs form, the alpha pair may not mate immediately. The mature dogs in the pack will teach the young to hunt and this is a great chance to educate visitors on the species and their conservation.

We will be keeping a close eye on the puppies' growth rate and ensure they are taken care of in a secure environment with minimal disturbances. It is important to give them space and monitor their progress," said Farshid Mehrdadfar, manager of the Animal Collection Department at AWPR.

African Wild Dogs belong to the family of dogs and are often mistaken for hyenas due to their large head and swiftness.

The fall in their numbers owes itself to human persecution, habitat loss, decline in prey species, and disease such as rabies and distemper. And because of migrating nature of the animals, it is difficult to determine the exact number and location of the remaining population.

"This (breeding programme) is the second success of the plan. We are focusing on species that live in the desert environment, such as African lion, Arabian leopard, sand cats and caracals, to name a few, so we can learn how to preserve these animals for the UAE, for its people and future generations. The desert ecosystem is a delicate environment and it is so sensitive that slight changes in it will tear off balance," he said.

The Desert Carnivore Conservation and Breeding Programme started in 2009 and was initiated to stop the number of species that thrive in the hot, sandy environment from dwindling. The AWPR's first achievement under the programme was the birth of sand cats through in-vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer.

According to Mehrdadfar, it was a successful attempt that the rest of the world could not achieve.

farhana@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 8, 2011
Words:460
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