The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is saddened to announce that one of its African painted dogs, Dojo, was humanely euthanized on Tuesday, April 18, at the Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital. At 11, Dojo was one of the Zoo’s oldest African painted dogs and considered to be geriatric. The Zoo’s expert animal and veterinary care teams had been monitoring Dojo for age-related issues including arthritis and degenerative changes. During a recent exam, veterinary staff saw that rapidly growing swelling in his leg was indicative of a cancerous process.

Dojo arrived at the OKC Zoo in 2013 from the Sedgwick County Zoo where he was born and became an alpha dog of the Zoo’s pack with his mate Xena. Dojo was welcomed to the OKC Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® for African painted dogs. In 2016, Xena and Dojo welcomed 14 African painted dog pups including current pack members Tex, Backslash and Spot. Dojo could often be seen resting with his pack throughout the day. He also enjoyed participating in training sessions with his caretakers, carcass feedings, puzzle feeders and any kind of scent enrichment. 

African painted dogs are social animals that live in groups between 2 and 40 individuals. They have a complex hierarchy that is usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair made up of the alpha female and alpha male. Painted dogs are critically endangered and have been competing with humans for space and food as roads, towns and farms expand. Many African predators are also hunted due to viewed threats to livestock despite painted dogs rarely being the culprit of livestock attacks. The OKC Zoo works with the AZA’s SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction program for African painted dogs and with the Painted Dog Research Trust to protect and conserve painted dogs for future generations.

The OKC Zoo is home to two African painted dog packs residing in Predator Pass and in Lion Overlook. The pack of three at Predator Pass consists of African painted dog female Pele and males Guy and Remy. The pack at Lion Overlook including Xena, Backslash, Spot and Tex will remain a pack of four. Upon the opening of Expedition Africa this summer, this pack will move to a brand-new habitat that guests will be able to visit.

Photo credit: Jennifer J.

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