Originally Posted by mrsd
How did they get their name? Do they really 'sing'? Or howl in tune?
They do have quite a beautiful and melodic howl. When they get going with the wolves in the enclosure next to them it's quite a remarkable sound. New Guinea Singing Dogs ("Singers" for short) are classed as Dingos, indigenous to New Guinea, believed to have been introduced by early sea faring people from southeast Asia. Most likely from the same general population of animals that was later introduced to Australia to become the Australian Dingos. Singers are believed to have been isolated from other canid species as long as 12,000 years ago (compared to Australian Dingos of 3,500 to 5,000 years ago.)
In the mid 1990s all types of Dingos were reclassified from being separate species to being breeds of domestic dog (which was itself reclassed as a subspecies of gray wolf.) This put a damper on the efforts to preserve them as a unique genetic line, which has since been taken up by the New Guinea Singing Dog Society (http://www.canineworld.com/ngsdcs/
). Currently there are less than 100 known to exist in captivity. The actual number in the wild is unknown but believed to be small and at risk. In New Guinea the Singers are known to interact with the native human populations in a fashion believed to be somewhat similar to the interaction of Australian Dingos with that country's Aboriginal people, though the full extent of the interaction is unknown.
The Singers at the Conservators' Center are among the few animals at our facility that are actually in a breeding program, controlled through a central registry to maximize genetic diversity and protect the unique identity of these animals. The dog in the picture is Palentina ("Tina"). She was born Sept 23, 2003 along with two sisters and two brothers (though one of her brothers was either still born or died immediately after birth.) The lone surviving male from the litter is in Kentucky. The Singers in this group are the only ones currently known to be in a semi-natural setting. While they do get considerably human interaction, this setting has provided an opportunity to observe numerous behaviors that were perviously unknown (including the den building of the mother) and disprove theories which had been proposed about these animals.
The Conservators' Center does not breed animals for sale or profit and does not sell, lease, or give away any animals. Animals that we place at another facility are under strict contract, on loan to that facility with the Conservators' Center retaining all rights and ownership. Any of the limited animal species (such as a Singer) which might be placed for breeding purposes is under pre-arranged strict restrictions regarding the age and frequency of breeding, source of potential mates, and ownership and management of offspring.