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The odd couple

30 April 2015

Our newest cute and fluffy addition to the Healesville Sanctuary family is the first Italian species to ever be added to our animal collection and he has a very important role to play down at Dingo Country.

Last year one of the Sanctuary’s dingo pups died suddenly from a suspected snake bite, leaving her sister Maliki alone and in need of a friend, and as dingoes are a social species and would naturally live in packs, our keepers had to work quickly to find a solution. After much investigation, and being unable to source a purebred dingo, our teams began to consider a domestic dog companion. Their research landed them at the Maremma breed which, while being a domestic dog, does share similarities with the dingo. Keepers decided this unlikely duo would make a good match.

Dante (meaning steadfast and strong) has a gentle and affectionate nature and his favourite game is playing hide and seek with Maliki and his keepers. Now six months old, Dante towers over Maliki but he is still a baby, so it will be some months before they are housed together permanently. Until then, they enjoy daily walks together and it is not uncommon to hear Maliki howl with anticipation as the keepers prepare for the two to spend time together.

Maremmas are a livestock guardian dog breed and Zoos Victoria is also trialling the use of Maremmas to protect critically endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoots being returned to the wild.