New dingoes friends forever

Maliki and Dargo were quick to become best of friends.

By Jed Lanyon

Healesville Sanctuary has some new den mates, who have formed a relationship far quicker than expected.

Tropical Dingo Maliki and Alpine Dingo Dargo were recently introduced to each other in the hope that they would eventually be able to live together harmoniously.

Much to their keepers’ surprise, the pair have become best friends within six weeks, as opposed to the estimated six months.

Maliki and Dargo, aged five and seven, are the same species, but look remarkably different.

Dingo keeper Shaun Scott said that while the pair were quite different in appearance and personality, they brought out the best in each other.

“From the first time they were together they got along so well, and we knew it was going to be a good relationship,” Mr Scott said.

“Maliki is definitely the brave, bold one, whereas Dargo is more reserved. He will often look to her for reassurance when he’s wary of a situation.”

Tropical Dingoes are slight in structure and are found along the northern coast of Australia, including Fraser Island.

Alpine Dingoes have thicker coats, perfect for keeping snug in their natural habitat of the chilly Australian alps.

Pairing the two was an outcome keepers were keen to facilitate as dingoes are a very social species.

“Training Maliki and Dargo started a few weeks before their actual introduction,” Mr Scott said.

“This included harness training to ensure a safe first meeting from a distance. Then we slowly brought them closer until they were comfortable being in close proximity to each other.

“Being a powerful, competitive carnivore, we also needed to ensure they were going to be OK in certain situations, such as around food and keepers.

“The team put in a lot of hours training the two in these behaviours, which is evident in this very positive outcome.”

Mr Scott said Healesville Sanctuary’s dingo program aimed to educate and inform visitors of the importance of the iconic Australian species.

“Generally, the public wouldn’t get to see dingoes up close, which is why we have dingoes as an ambassador species – to educate the public about why we have dingoes in Australia, why they’re needed, and what we can do to help dingoes in the wild.”

Visitors to Healesville Sanctuary can visit Maliki and Dargo every day of the year from 9am to 5pm.

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