We just had a big “leap” forward for Chinese dholes! On Leap Day, February 29, 2016, a huge litter of TEN dhole puppies was born at an off-exhibit area at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. This is the largest litter ever to be born in the United States.
The dhole (pronounced dole) is also known as the Asiatic wild dog. It is an endangered species of canid found in southern and eastern Asia.
When keepers first looked at the camera footage from the dhole den, we saw only three or four puppies. Pretty soon a couple more puppies came into view, and to our surprise, we eventually counted all ten! Three male puppies and seven female puppies all huddled together.
“Tikka” is the dominant female of this dhole pack, and the proud mom to the unexpectedly large litter. For the first couple of weeks, she was in charge of the puppies and took care of their every need. As the puppies get a little older, the entire pack helps out. The dominant male, “Nima,” along with the rest of the pack, help to feed, protect and play with the puppies.
Overnight they went from a pack of six dogs to a pack of sixteen!