The birth of a big litter of African wild dog puppies at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo late last year is great news for their endangered species. The litter, born to 6-year-old mother Kim and 4-year-old father Digger on Thanksgiving, contains a whopping 10 healthy puppies who were examined by a zoo veterinarian on Thursday.
The puppies, much like their domestic cousins, needed to be vaccinated against canine diseases -- the spread of distemper from domestic dogs is one cause for their steep population decline in the wild -- and have microchips implanted for identification purposes.
Brookfield is a participant in the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan program to ensure the survival of African wild dogs. Kim and Digger's puppies are the third and largest African wild dog litter to be born at the zoo so far.
African wild dogs have an "it takes a village" approach to parenting: Not only do Kim and Digger care for the puppies, but Digger's brother Duke also plays a big role in their lives. In wild packs of African wild dogs, all adults pitch in to care for the young, regardless of their biological parentage.
See more photos and video of the puppies after the jump!