4 African painted dogs from Binder Park Zoo going to Houston

NEWTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Binder Park Zoo says four of its African painted dogs are moving to Texas.

The dogs, Modo, Rafiki, Tamu and Wiki, will be trucked to Houston Zoo this month. They are all males and will hopefully contribute to a breeding program to help their species, which is endangered, survive.

“It’s going to be hard to see these guys go,” Kathryn Sippel, curator of collections at Binder Park Zoo, said in a Tuesday statement. “We have cared for them since birth, watched them grow and develop personalities. … But the time has come for them to move on, create their own pack and contribute to the conservation of their species.” 

The four dogs were among 11 pups born at the Battle Creek-area zoo in November 2018. Their father Verizon was born at the Bronx Zoo in 2007 and came to Binder Park in 2012. The 2018 litter was the only one he fathered. He died in 2019 at the age of 12.

The pups’ mother Ghost was born in the United Kingdom, then went to Houston and finally came to Binder Park in 2017. She’s now past prime breeding age, so the zoo says she will be spayed.

Ghost will live in a pack with her male pups and her female pups will be their own pack. Both packs will be on display at the zoo, but in shifts.

With fewer than 5,000 remaining worldwide, the zoo says African painted dogs are threatened by human conflict, the destruction of their habitat and disease. Binder Park Zoo is the only place in Michigan where they can be found.