The Minnesota Zoo's latest spring birth announcement boasts two litters of endangered dhole pups.
Before the Apple Valley zoo births, just nine litters of the Asian wild dogs -- their species is pronounced "dole" -- have been recorded in the United States. The zoo is one of three in the United States to exhibit the dogs. The zoo's exhibit opened in December in the former Mexican gray wolf space on the zoo's Northern Trail.
The pups, born April 12 and April 14, are just starting to move about the exhibit. Keepers expect them to spend more time outside the den in the coming weeks. Because they were still keeping close to their den, keepers don't know the number of pups but think there are four. The pups are best viewed from the exhibit's gazebo.
The zoo has two adult females, who are sharing maternal duties, and two adult males.
The dhole is a primitive canine species. As adaptable, social-pack animals, they live in diverse habitats in Thailand, Russia, China and India. In the wild, they eat mostly deer and wild boar.
Fewer than 2,500 dholes exist in the wild. Major threats to the species include habitat loss, lack of prey and disease from domestic and feral dogs.
The zoo supports dhole conservation in Thailand.
Jessica Fleming can be reached at 651-228-5435. Follow her at twitter.com/jessflem.