Two litters of bush dog pups, born at Chester Zoo, have begun to venture outside for the first time.
The first litter, consisting of five pups, was discovered on 11 August after keepers heard tiny squeals coming from their den. A second set then arrived just over a month later (16 September) but, with a possibility that some pups may still be tucked up in underground burrows, keepers are yet to determine exactly how many make up litter number two.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed the species as near threatened with extinction after their wild number dropped by more than 25% in just 12 years. They have suffered from habitat loss from farming, a loss of prey species and from contracting diseases spread by other canines or domestic dogs.
Bush dogs often hunt in packs to chase down vermin, lizards and birds and have been known to hunt animals nearly twice their size. The species belongs to the canine family and live in small isolated populations in the wet forests and grasslands of Central and South America. Bush dogs have evolved over thousands of years to have a web of skin between their toes, which makes them excellent swimmers. Visit www.chesterzoo.org to find out how you can see these cute canines for yourself.
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