Dog Collaboration at Port Lympne

On 29th November PDCUK (Sandra Miles-Taylor) met Dr. Greg Rasmussen (research director Painted Dog Conservation), Richard Barnes (Head Carnivore keeper Port Lympne and EEP studbook keeper for Painted Dogs) and Ron Van Der A (Stichting PDC) Netherlands. The prime objective was to discuss the upcoming workshop that Stichting will host in 2014,‘ First European Workshop on The African Painted Dogs 2014 23-25 March' where Richard will be a keynote presenter. Afterwards Greg delivered a fascinating lunchtime talk to zoo staff highlighting the important connection between research in both wild and captive dog populations, highlighting how conservationists and zookeepers must collaborate to enhance understanding of dog behaviour while gathering vital genetic and hormone data from faecal samples. He then reviewed the impact of dog/human interaction in the wild, putting out a call to help with the redesigning of the vital, dog saving, anti-snare and tracking collars to achieve a robust, cost-effective way forward for this essential field research activity that is huge a financial burden on field data collection. Afterwards we were privileged to be taken to the Painted Dog enclosure where we observed a fascinating enrichment activity Richard has developed involving a zip wire and a fire hose. The dogs have to collaborate to receive their reward, as they would in the wild, pulling on one of the greatest strengths of the dog’s, their collaborative instinct. This critically aids their survival in the wild. The alpha female was hugely active in this despite her advanced pregnancy (pups due in the next 2 weeks ).