Part of the project: The African wild dog

Who’s Poo is Who’s?

In European Zoos, African Wild Dogs are group-housed and are fed with carcasses to mimic the natural situation as closely as possible. This is great for the dogs, but presents us with a headache when we are studying them.

Just like in the Pygmy Hippo project, we monitor reproductive hormone levels in collected faeces from individual animals and analysing it the lab. The trouble is that, with the pack being so closely knit, it is difficult to tell who’s poo is who’s!

To overcome this problem we did a study where we fed food marked either with food dye, sweetcorn or glitter to an individual dog and tested whether we could identify their poo in the enclosure. And we found that the glitter worked best of all.

So now when we want to study a specific dog, we feed it some extra food that is marked with glitter. This now gives us, and others, a useful way to monitor hormones in specific, individual dogs.

More details on these findings can be found in the research poster below, click on the icon to see the full poster.

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Background and highlights

Team members


Monique Paris

IBREAM Research Director


Femke Van den Berghe

IBREAM PhD Student, James Cook University

Damien Paris

James Cook University


Michael Briggs

African Predator Conservation Program (APCRO)


Wenche Farstad

IBREAM Advisory Board member, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

Leanne Van der Weyde

Leanne Van der Weyde

IBREAM PhD Student, University of Western Australia

Alex Vergara-Lansdell

Alex Vergara-Lansdell

University of Cumbria

Zoltan Sarnyai

Zoltan Sarnyai

James Cook University

Andre Ganswindt

Andre Ganswindt

IBREAM Advisory Board member, University of Pretoria

Collaborators : Albuquerque BioPark Zoo, Topeka Zoological Park, Binder Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Zoo Duisburg, Artis Zoo, Harnas Wildlife Foundation, West Midland Safari and Leisure Park, Oklahoma City Zoo, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, The Wildt Breeding Centre, Kerkrade Zoo, Prof. Graeme Martin (University of Western Australia), Prof. Henk Bertschinger.

Captivity Studies Sponsors : University of Western Australia, IMV, James Cook University, EI Medical Imaging (USA).

In situ collaborators : Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (Dave Druce).

Sponsors : Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund, EI Medical Imaging, Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Morris Animal Foundation, Olympus, Roche.