Bush dogs join the pack at Jersey Zoo
Native to Central and South America, bush dogs are mainly found living close to water sources, in forests and wet savanna. As carnivores, their typical prey in the wild includes small mammals, birds, and reptiles.
Senior Mammal Keeper, Leila Boyd, says, “This is the first time we have kept bush dogs at Jersey Zoo, and we are so excited for our visitors to enjoy watching and learning about these fascinating animals. Sadly, the species is under threat primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and a reduction in prey due to illegal hunting and predation by domestic dogs.”
The bush dogs form part of an important captive breeding programme to safeguard the species, which is currently "Near Threatened” in the wild with its population decreasing according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The captive population consists of approximately 200 individuals spread across 50 zoos worldwide, with most held in European zoos.
Currently, the pair spend most of their time inside, which is temporarily closed due to restrictions on indoor areas, but gradually they will start spending more time exploring the outdoor area where the public will be able to see them.
“Jessica and Tiago are so playful together,” Leila added. “We think they will bring smiles to visitors’ faces. Hopefully one day soon there will be the pitter-patter of tiny bush dog paws!”
Thanks to the kind support of Blue Islands, the animals were brought to Jersey in November last year. Jessica came to Jersey Zoo from Knowsley Safari Park in the UK, and the male, Tiago, from Safari de Peaugres in France. Jessica is almost two and a half years old, and Tiago is younger, at just over one and a half.
Rob Veron, CEO of Blue Islands, said, “Durrell’s incredible wildlife conservation programmes combined with the wonderful Jersey Zoo for islanders and visitors alike is why we were proud to be able to play our part in the logistical challenge of ensuring the safe arrival of the bush dogs in Jersey as they become part of the zoo's family.”
The public is encouraged to keep an eye on Jersey Zoo’s social media channels for updates about the bush dogs and when they can be seen more regularly in their outdoor enclosure.
Photo credits: Patryk Kucza