There's movement afoot to change the name of African wild dogs to "painted dogs," but don't expect to see that change at Brookfield Zoo anytime soon.
The ornately colored animals have rapidly dwindled on their native continent as humans encroach on their savanna habitat. As "wild dogs," the creatures didn't get much empathy from humans, so Greg Rasmussen, who heads Painted Dog Conservation, decided he would try to re-brand them as "painted dogs," a name that some people already were using.
But Bill Zeigler, vice president of animal care for the Chicago Zoological Society, said the zoo will follow the terminology recognized by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which regulates animals moving in and out of the country. The zoo tries to use common names that all federal agencies and state governments recognize, he said.
Right now, that term is "African hunting dogs." The medium-sized canids also are known as Cape hunting dogs, spotted dogs, ornate wolves and other names. It's scientific name is Lycaon pictus (Greek for "wolf," Latin for "painted").
At Brookfield Zoo, you could also call them breeding dogs: the zoo now has a breeding pair and has moved a couple of its non-breeding dogs to other zoos. With any luck, the zoo soon may have painted pups.
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