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Precious Pack

3 March 2017

Four African Wild Dogs at Melbourne Zoo are experiencing new surroundings after being moved ‘next door’ this morning to make way for the builders!

For the next few months they will be living in the lion exhibit just across the pathway while their own exhibit is enlarged and extensively renovated.

The four brothers were born at Perth Zoo in 2012 and arrived at Melbourne Zoo before the new Lion Gorge exhibit opened in 2014.

Carnivore Department Manager Adrian Howard has these handy tips to help visitors identify the individuals in the pack.

  • Samawhati has a shorter tail and quite ragged ears.
  • Saba has a large black band around the lower half of his tail.
  • Maana has very faint black dots in the middle and tip of his tail.
  • Duara has a complete white archway underneath his tail

Their names are either Arabic or Swahili, and they all have interesting meanings:  

  • Samawhati means blue or heavens (Arabic)
  • Saba means seven, as there were also three sisters in the litter (Swahili)
  • Maana means dangerous (Swahili)
  • Duara means circle or archway (Swahili)

Adrian explains that after the African Wild Dog exhibit renovation is completed in a few months and the brothers move back there, renovations will be made to the lion exhibit to prepare for the arrival of three young lions from Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Today is World Wildlife Day, an ideal time to highlight the plight of both African Wild Dogs and African Lions in the wild.   

In spite of their reputation as fearsome predators, their populations are declining rapidly: only about 6,000 Wild Dogs and fewer than 30,000 lions are believed to be surviving across Africa. 

One of the reasons there are so many fewer Wild Dog packs and lion prides is that there is increased human use of land that was previously the domain of wildlife.

These species also suffer from trapping, poisoning, and poaching from farmers who believe they kill domestic stock, which researchers have found only happens rarely.