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Zoo's dingo puppies explore habitat

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The dingo difference

-Dingoes howl instead of barking, like domestic adult dogs
-Purebred dingoes always have white feet and a white tip on their tails
-Dingoes have a greater range of motion in their spine than domestic dogs, which gives them greater flexibility
-Dingoes have no body odor
-The widest portion of a dingo's body is its cheekbones; the widest part of a domestic dog's body is usually its shoulders or hips

Source: Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 7:51 am

Wednesday's mild temperatures made it possible for Fort Wayne Children's Zoo staff to let its newest additions go exploring.

The 5-week-old litter of seven dingo puppies went outside in their habitat for the first time Wednesday afternoon, a treat that after about an hour left the pups pretty tired.

Dingo puppies act much like other puppies, chewing on everything from twigs, to shoes and camera straps, and are also fed puppy food.

The litter is the first at the zoo since 1988. Proud parents Mattie and Naya were imported to Fort Wayne in January 2010 and are among about 75 pairs of pure dingoes in the world.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the dingo as a threatened species, but interest is growing to protect them. Many in Australia, where the dingo originates, regard dingoes as pests, and in some areas dingoes are hunted for bounty.

The puppies haven't been named yet, but some distinct marks help tell them apart. In the litter of seven there are four males and three females. Two are black and tan, two are cream and the other three are ginger.

As tempting as it might be to take one home, Australian Area Manager Elaine Kirchner said dingoes don't make very good pets because they aren't very obedient.

Most of the puppies will eventually be sent to other zoos, but they should still be around for the zoo's opening on April 21.