Oklahoma City Zoo has found an unlikely solution to a tragic problem. After Xena, an African Wild Dog, showed no maternal instincts towards her three puppies they were in effect left parentless. This was until a golden retriever was brought in to act as a surrogate for them.
The pups were born on the 7 November and shortly after but it became clear their mother was not capable of raising them properly. This was a huge issue as, with less than 7,000 adult African Wild Dogs left in the wild, the breed is considered endangered.
After an extensive search, the zoo found Lilly, an ex-rescue dog from Wichita. She was perfect for the task, as she had just had a puppy of her own. This meant that she was displaying motherly instincts, and was able to feed and raise the pups alongside her own.
Since their introduction, Lilly took over the task of raising the triplets, feeding them and teaching them social skills, and the puppies were therefore given the opportunity to socialise with other canines, something that wouldn’t have been possible had they had to be hand raised by human carers.
Laura Bottaro, Animal Curator at the zoo, said, “In preparation for this birth, [they] have been monitoring Xena 24/7 by video. [They] know that she is an unproven mother and wanted to be ready to intervene if necessary.”
She went on to say that the staff at the zoo, “Are hopeful that these dogs will thrive in Lilly’s care and when they reach an appropriate age for socialization [they] will be able to successfully reintroduce them to their pack.”