By dingo! Wild dogs at Wellington Zoo

Published: Mon 29 Dec 2008 11:02 AM
By dingo! Wild dogs at Wellington Zoo
New to Wellington Zoo and unique to New Zealand zoos, two purebred young dingoes will be walked daily around Zoo grounds over the summer holiday season.
Visitors will be able to meet the dingoes under the supervision of staff trained in dingo handling and behaviour.
In early January a competition will be held among Zoo Crew members to find new names for the young dogs who have been leash-trained and socialised.
Dingoes arrived in Australia with Asia sea-farers as least 3,000 years ago and have since lived as semi-domesticated companion animals in Aboriginal communities.
Wellington Zoo Chief Executive Karen Fifield first met the two dingoes as puppies at the Dingo Discovery Centre in Victoria, Australia. She says that dingoes in general, commonly maligned as pests among the rural community, are amazing animals.
“They’re not like domestic dogs at all—they make adult pet pets seem like puppies in comparison when you get up close to them.
“As a species they’re of great interest to natural historians and scientists, and for this reason are protected in the wild in national parks.”
Ms Fifield says that although dingoes will never be truly domesticated, they are well-regarded as trainable, friendly and safe animals. At Wellington Zoo the pair (a bitch and a dog) will be walked several times daily in accordance with best-practice dingo captive management recommendations.
Dingo facts
• London Zoo was breeding dingoes in 1830 and in Australia zoos they have proved popular contact animals for visitors.
• The greatest threat to the species is hybridisation with wild common dogs, and there is strong support for their protection in Australia.
• A dingo-proof fence—at 5635km one of the longest in the world—runs from South Australia, and was built to protect farm stock.
• In the wild, dingoes are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk) and are social, pack animals who maintain distinct territories.
• In the wild they are very vocal, with howls for long-range communication, bark-howls and snuffs.
Wellington Zoo is a charitable trust principally funded by the Wellington City Council

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