They were born on November 19; the adults are from Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai
Seven dhole pups that were born in November at the Mysore zoo, were released for public viewing on Thursday. Dhole (Cuon alpinus), a highly endangered species, is difficult to breed in captivity. So far, only Chennai and Vishakapatnam zoos have successfully bred the dholes. Mysore zoo took the help of the authorities of the two zoos to undertake the captive breeding programme.
Of the seven dhole pups, four are male and three female. They weigh between 2.8 kg and 3.3 kg. The pups have started eating chicken.
Zoo Executive Director B.P. Ravi said a pair of adult dholes was received from the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai in 2009. Pregnancy was diagnosed by 35th day based on the visible changes in the female. Since the animal was not showing any signs of burrowing its own den, an artificial den was prepared for breeding, he said.
Three holdings rooms and an artificial den were prepared for confining the two animals for next two months. Flooring was modified for easy cleaning and CCTV cameras were fixed in the den and holding rooms for round-the-clock monitoring.
Den and holding rooms were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Floor of the den was provided with wooden planks to keep the animals warm during winter.
“Since dholes are very shy and easily get exited, keeper passage was covered with plastic sheets to prevent visible disturbances and visitor path was diverted away from the dhole enclosure to reduce any disturbance from sound,” he explained.
The dhole took five hours to deliver seven pups on November 19. The gestation period is 60-62 days.
The mother is given special care and is fed twice a day besides being given nutritional supplements, he explained.
The male dhole kept a watch outside the den. Three days after the birth of the seven pups, the male dhole went inside the den and started caring for them, Mr. Ravi said.