28 July 2021

The Johannesburg Zoo offers its visitors a wide collection of some of the most exotic and endangered animals right on their doorstep.  Amid the bustling of city life, visitors can experience over 320 species of animals from all over the world, totaling about 2 000 animals in our care.  As the world’s population continues to increase, the development of infrastructure, need for housing and the rapid urbanisation of metropolises, wildlife and their habitats in turn, disappear.  More and more people living in cities are disconnected from their natural environment.  For most of these people, zoos provide the gateway for stepping into nature with other living creatures that share our planet.

This feature is aimed at educating and shining a spotlight on endangered species, animals that are indigenous to Africa and their immense contribution to the ecosystem.

Meet the African Wild Dogs also known as “Painted wolves or dogs”. They have unmistakably long legs, rounded ears, spotted coats and large powerful jaws. The coat pattern is unique to each dog, making individuals easily recognizable.

Wild dogs are extremely social animals, living in packs of around 10 individuals and up to 40 members.

They weigh between 17 to 36kg and are found in open plains and moderately dense bush. African wild dogs can reach speeds of more than 70kms per hour.

Interesting facts about the African Wild Dog:

  • African Wild Dogs play an important role in the ecosystem as they regulate and maintain the ecosystem by hunting the sick and weak animals which helps maintain the balance and improve prey species.
  • Their social structure is very unique, every individual knows their role and they help take care of the wounded, sick members and pups. Wild Dogs communicate through vocal communication by making particular sounds within the pack. 
  • They are known to be opportunistic predators that hunt medium size animals. They also feed on small prey like hares, but they also kill big prey between 120 to 140kg such as young buffalo, Eland etc.
  • In the wild they can live up to 12 years and 15 years in captivity.  Illegal wild-life trading, loss of habitat and the on-going war between animal and human beings, has critically reduced the number of these animals on earth.
  • The zoo hosts 5 wild dogs, 3 males and 2 females. We have successfully bred 4 times.
  • They are crepuscular - resting during the day and hunting in the early morning and afternoon to early evening.


“The conservation team at the Joburg Zoo is doing sterling work in increasing endangered species numbers.  The success of the African Wild Dogs breeding programme is just one of many,” stated Bryne Maduka, Managing Director, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo.

Visit JCPZ’s social media pages to learn more about these beautiful mammals and a series of profiles of endangered species breeding programmes spearheaded by the Joburg Zoo.