A new African Painted Dog exhibit will be built in Wild African thanks to a very generous donation by the Zanetti family. The gift was donated in loving memory of Andrew T. Zanetti, by his father, Frank Zanetti and his uncle and aunt, John and Anne Zanetti. A private groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 17th with family and friends gathering to remember Andrew and to celebrate his life.

The Zanetti’s are a multi-generational and close-knit family. Their long roots in the Battle Creek community date back to 1958, when Santo Zanetti started the Battle Creek Tile & Mosaic Company. Today, Battle Creek Tile remains family owned and operated for over 55 years, though the Zanetti family’s roots in the Battle Creek community go much deeper through their philanthropic values and generosity to charities through the Santo, Maria, Frankie and John Zanetti Family Foundation.

The African painted dog exhibit will be designed to encourage and highlight the natural behaviors of painted dogs. It will feature natural landscape, rocks, trees and a water feature for the dogs to explore. The guest viewing area will resemble a living compound near an African national park and graphics will bring to light efforts to protect this unique and integral species. The exhibit will be adjacent to the upcoming African lion exhibit and will share an animal holding area as well as transfer chutes that will allow the dogs and lions to be switched back and forth to each exhibit. The exhibit transfer system will offer a unique enrichment opportunity for the both the dogs and lions, as they will be able to explore each other’s exhibits and experience new smells and activities.

The African painted dog is one of the world’s most endangered mammals, with less than 5,500 remaining in the wild; most being predominately found in southern and eastern Africa. The painted dog is also one of the world’s most social canids and lives in very close groups of 2-27 individuals. Their markings are unique to the individual and allow other pack members to easily identify each other. Their family strengths come from their vocalization, socialization and their team hunting. Studies conducted on the painted dog also indicated that these remarkable creatures will also take care of sick members and mourn the loss of a family member reconfirming the strength of these pack animals. Binder Park Zoo is home to three male African painted dogs; Victor, Verizon and Black Tail. There are currently about 100 dogs in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan population distributed throughout over 33 accredited institutions.