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This litter of endangered African painted dog puppies is stealing hearts

The cute little pups won’t go on display for a few months yet.

You’ve probably seen plenty of puppies in your life – but you might not have seen any quite like these.

That’s because this is a litter of African painted dog puppies, born at the weekend to mum Ella and dad Juma at Oregon Zoo in Portland.

The species, also known as African wild dogs, is endangered – the population of them in the wild is down to around 5,000 having once stood at half a million.

So any new pups are very welcome – and these, the first to be born at Oregon Zoo, are doubly so.

“We’re excited to welcome these pups, and Ella is doing a great job as a first-time mum so far,” said Laura Weiner, senior keeper for the zoo’s Africa area.

“We’re giving the new family plenty of time and space to bond, but we’ve been checking in regularly on their den camera.”

Zoo staff are keeping their distance at the moment so the pups can get to grips with the “complicated social structures” of the species, Weiner said.

Because of this, they don’t know exactly how many pups there are, but somewhere between 10 and 16 is normal – female African painted dogs have 14 teats to cope with the load.

And as for when visitors will get to see them, it should only be a few months.

“Painted dog pups are born blind, so they’ll stay in the den until they’re able to see and get around on their own,” Weiner said.

“But when they join the pack in a few months, guests can expect to see a lot of fun puppy activity.”