African Painted Dogs Arrive at the Dallas Zoo — the First in 57 Years

For the first time in 57 years, the big-eared, lanky carnivores known as African painted dogs are back to the Dallas Zoo.On Wednesday morning, zoo staff opened the doors to the barn where 8-year-old Ola stayed overnight, waiting eagerly for the female African painted dog to take her first steps into her new home. But Ola, who arrived at the zoo Tuesday afternoon after taking a flight from Chicago, was feeling a little apprehensive in her new surroundings.A few minutes after staff gave her access to the habitat, Ola poked her head out the barn door and looked around before she scurried back inside.Later Wednesday morning, Lora Baumhardt, the zoo's carnivore supervisor, watched a video feed on her phone from inside the barn, where Ola was lying down."I think once she gets over the newness of stuff, she'll do really well," Baumhardt said. "It's just a lot right now — we've asked a lot of her, but she's curious."A little after 1:30 p.m. — about five hours after staff gave her access to the habitat — Ola worked up the courage to step outside where zoo patrons could see her.The dogs take over the area that was originally home to the zoo's cheetahs, who have moved to the former mandrill habitat. The space was originally designed with painted dogs in mind, but there weren’t any in need of a new home when the Giants of the Savanna opened in 2010, said Harrison Edell, executive vice president of animal care and conservation for the zoo. "Right now the stars have aligned," Edell said.Ola comes to Dallas from the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, where she was a staff favorite. She will be joined later by two 2-year-old brothers, Jata and Mzingo. Guests can meet the trio of painted dogs on Monday.  Continue reading...

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