Rare South American Bush Dogs Arrive at the Zoo
January 7, 2014— The Zoo is now one of only a handful of zoos in the United States that houses the rare Bush dog from South America. Recently arrived from Palm Beach Zoo where they were born, the two brothers are part of a cooperative breeding program, and are making their new home in the former bear exhibit.
“We’re proud to introduce this unusual and little-known species to Zoo visitors,” said Zoo Manager Gretchen Ziegler. “The dogs’ size and behavior are ideally suited for the old bear grotto. If these young males do well here, we plan to add females to form a breeding pack in another year or so. Eventually they may move into our Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot zone alongside the Chilean flamingos, Chacoan peccaries, and others. They are an excellent complement to this story about a unique region of the world.”
Bush dogs are found throughout much of South America, but in very low numbers and therefore have not been widely studied. Their closest living relative is believed to be the Maned wolf of South America, which is another species the Zoo plans to add in the future. They are active in the daytime and spend much of their time exploring and playing around water. Bush dogs weigh only 11-18 pounds and have short legs relative to body size, as well as a short snout and relatively small ears, making them adept at hunting larger prey.
The best time to see the Bush dogs is around mid-day, when they forage their exhibit for scattered meals.
Zoo staff made the decision not to bring Black bears back into this exhibit in anticipation of building a new larger, forested bear exhibit in the Native Predators zone. The two Grey foxes who shared this exhibit with Rosemary the Black bear are now housed off display, awaiting their new exhibit within Native Predators.
For more information:
Contact: Gretchen Ziegler, Zoo Manager