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The elusive and shy New Guinea singing dog has not been seen outside of captivity in more than 23 years -- until recently. The canine, which is related to the Australian dingo and named for the coyote-style howling it does, was feared extinct in the wild. Only about 200 of the dogs remain on display in zoos or in homes as pets.
In September members of a tour group hiking into the remote highlands of the island were surprised to find that they were being watched by a wild dog. They observed the canine for about fifteen minutes as it continued to watch them curiously. It showed no fear of humans which is typical of an animal species that has lived isolated from humans for generations.
In spite of the fact that the dog was seen in the range that has long been known to be its ancestral home, photographs are being studied by experts to make sure that it really was a singing dog. The color of the dog in the photos differes somewhat from the tan and black colors that had been observed historically.
A trek to search for the dog in 1996 turned up only paw prints and scat, suggesting that at least a few of the animals still existed. Finding a wild population could allow for the infusion of new DNA into the limited captive gene pool to improve the prospects of the captive breeding program. This would allow humans to breed stronger, healthier individuals to be released back into the wild.
Source: National Geographic
Laurie Kay Olson
Animal News Blogger