Welcome our Dingoes...
Australia's famous and iconic wild dog, its top 'apex' predator, has not been seen in the UK for around 20 years.
Hamerton Zoo Park has just welcomed two Dingoes, who have traveled from Queensland to live at the Park. 'Yogi' and 'Daisy' are only a few months old and we hope will be the founders of a new pack and a strain of pure-bred Dingoes in Europe.
The Dingo has been despised throughout Australian history by farmers and settlers and is still subject to bounty hunting and controls in certain States. This persecution has been aided by lack of protection which has not been helped by its classification as a type of domestic dog. Recent scientific studies in Sydney have shown that it is actually a full species in its own right and should be known by its earlier name of ' Canis dingo '.
Although Dingoes naturally vary somewhat in both colouration and shape, this does not denote impurity. Some can be black and tan, the rangy 'Desert' animals are generally ginger in colour, and the stockier 'Alpine' type is often white. All have white markings on their paws, and often chest and other parts of their body.
Across their range, Dingoes are now under severe threat from cross-breeding with feral domestic dogs; and are in a similar situation to the Scottish Wild Cat which is threatened in the same way - by cross-breeding with invasive domestic cats.
Despite official indecision, it is fortunate that a few private breeders in Australia are taking the matter very seriously; and after a long search and many thousands of miles travelled by our friends at the Darling Downs Zoo we have been fortunate to find an unrelated pair of young animals from different breeders who obtained their stock from Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is the World's largest sand island situated off the coast of Queensland, north of Brisbane, and is now very popular as a recreational destination. It has a fascinating natural history and is home to an isolated population of pure-bred Dingoes (maybe the last?) which have remained separated from domestic dogs.
Many of the Dingoes found in European zoos do not appear to be pure-bred, and after so much effort we are delighted to have been able to source 'Fraser Island' Dingoes as part of our conservation efforts at Hamerton. This iconic and important animal is now known to perform a crucial role in the natural ecosystem, indirectly helping preserve populations of some of Australia's lesser known and threatened 'little brown' marsupials. The Dingo, far from deserving to be simply an Aussie insult, deserves more attention and help than it has received in the past; and is a welcome addition to the fantastic collection of Australian animals we have at the Park.
ps- 'Yogi' and 'Daisy' can be seen (from a distance) in their holding run near to the Tayras for the next few days. Next week, after they have settled in (and it is quieter following the school holidays) they will have use of the large paddock.