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HOUSE FULL!: A wild dog feeding its young ones at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam. Photo: K.R. Deepak
HOUSE FULL!: A wild dog feeding its young ones at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Nivedita Ganguly

Wild dog gives birth to octuplets at Vizag zoo

  • One major threat to the animals is habitat destruction
  • They live up to 16 years in captivity and 10 years in the wild

    VISAKHAPATNAM: In their rusty orange coats with the tail bearing a black streak, they ferociously guard the small dome-shaped den. The wild dogs roam restlessly, protecting the little ones hidden inside the shelter from any source of impending danger. The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park witnessed a rare phenomenon with the birth of eight young pups of the wild dogs a month ago.

    "Normally, wild dogs litter in four to six. But eight is a very rare occurrence," the zoo curator B. Vijaykumar told The Hindu.

    With its sharp ears and piercing eyes, the male and the female keep a track of the movements of kites and eagles hovering over the area. The pack of young ones however come out only in the early hours of the day and in the late evenings when the keeper comes to serve them food.

    While they scurry along with each other to get their share of food, their parents shoo away the flying kites and eagles.

    Depleting species

    At the zoo, there are two female and one male adult wild dog. "The dholes or wild dogs are a fast depleting species. They are hardly visible in the Eastern Ghats now," said Vijaykumar. One major threat to the dholes is habitat destruction.

    "Because of climatic and habitat changes, several new diseases are attacking the species," he added.

    Dholes live in packs and the size of the packs indicates the health of the species.

    Characteristics

    Their physical and genetic characteristics are very different from the domestic dogs. The dholes can live up to 16 years in captivity and 10 years in the wild.

    Not a fast runner though, the dhole, however, has great stamina, and pursues its prey for hours. Being an excellent swimmer, it often drives its prey into water, surrounding the animal and swimming out in teams to capture it.

    The dhole is capable of killing prey ten times its own size, and defends its kill very aggressively.


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