First litter of African painted dogs born at ZooTampa at Lowry Park

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An adorable litter of rare African painted dogs was born at ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

The seven multi-colored pups are the first of this endangered African species to be born at the zoo.

They also are the first pups born to parents Layla and Hatari, who both arrived at the zoo earlier this year, zoo staff said.

African painted dogs, also known as African wild dogs, are native to sub-Saharan Africa. There are an estimated 6,600 African painted dogs on earth, and their numbers are declining.

Staff says ZooTampa is one of only a few zoos working to save the African painted dog through conservation and breeding programs.

"The birth of these pups is a significant step in helping save the population that is under severe threat,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, senior vice president and chief zoological officer at ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

The pups will stay close to their mother for about four weeks before leaving their den. As the colorful pups get bigger and more independent, they will be put into a habitat visible by visitors.