Mutt nursing wild dogs at city zoo

November 4, 2009 7:37:49 AM PST
A mutt from a city animal shelter is acting as a surrogate mother for nine African painted dogs born at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Dr. Stephanie James, the zoo's director of veterinary service, says the only other litter of wild dogs to be hand-raised in captivity was in the United Kingdom. The Pittsburgh zoo staff had to intervene in raising its pups because their mother died of a ruptured uterus shortly after delivering the litter last month.

Zoo officials found a mixed-breed mutt who recently delivered a litter of pups. That dog, Honey, has been nursing the wild dogs.

The mortality rate for painted pups is 50 percent, even when born in the wild to a healthy mother.

Zoo officials hope to wean the pups in about two weeks.