KEEPERS at West Midland Safari Park are celebrating the arrival of three endangered dhole pups.

The three boisterous youngsters were born on March 9, but keepers have only recently met the pups face-to-face, as for the first 10 weeks of their lives they were kept hidden away in their den by seven-year-old mum, Berri.

Luckily, staff were alerted to the pups’ appearance when they spotted dad Douglas washing the new arrivals on the dhole house CCTV.

Like a domestic puppy, the dhole pups had their first veterinary check, microchips and vaccinations at 10 weeks old. This also gave staff the chance to see what gender the pups were too – two boys and a girl.

This was welcome news to head keeper, Lawrence Bates, who had already decided to name the pups after three of his team, Huw, Harry and Holly.

Malvern Gazette:

This also fits with the park’s naming practice that every animal born in 2019 must start with the letter ‘H’.

Senior carnivore keeper, Huw Owen-Jones, said: “It is an honour to lend our names to such brilliant animals. Dholes are classed as endangered in the wild, so it's great news for the species that we have such a successful breeding programme at the park.

“The three pups are already developing individual personalities - Huw and Harry have already started squabbling, whilst Holly is a bit more reserved and sits back and takes it all in.

"Mum Berri has done a great job and is a really relaxed parent, taking it all in her stride. Douglas on the other hand is very overprotective and seems to keep watch over them more than mum.

Malvern Gazette:

"The pups had their first day out on the safari this week and Douglas was always nearby. He’s great at taking them food and ensures they are always looked after.”

The puppies are part of a European breeding programme, and brings the total number of dholes at the Park to 11.

Dholes are classed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, due to threats such as habitat loss, depletion of prey and persecution stemming from retaliatory killings due to livestock predation.

The dhole pups can be seen in Wild Woods, part of the four-mile safari which is included in the standard admission charge at the safari park.

Visit wmsp.co.uk for details or phone 01299 402114.