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Surrogate helping with Sedgwick County Zoo’s new pups

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, at 5:48 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, at 10:24 p.m.

Did you know?

• There are about 6,600 African painted dogs in the wild, and they are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

• About 125 African painted dogs live at 37 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

• African painted dogs are managed under a Species Survival Plan, a program of the AZA. The Species Survival Plan for African painted dogs is managed by the Sedgwick County Zoo.

The Sedgwick County Zoo got a heckuva Halloween treat – a litter of African painted dog pups.

But the pups’ mom, Mica, couldn’t produce milk. So a pitbull named Sparkles stepped in as a surrogate mother.

The 4-year-old Mica gave birth Oct. 31 to 11 puppies. Eight survived and are under veterinary intensive care.

After confirming that Mica was not producing milk, zoo staff removed the puppies from their nest box. The zoo then put out a call for lactating dogs who were close to weaning their own puppies, a news release from the zoo said.

Sparkles began her side job on Sunday.

“Using a surrogate provides a continual canine maternal presence that zoo staff could not provide. The presence provides sustenance and comfort,” the release Wednesday said.

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