Sir Edward Hallstrom, then president of Australia’s Taronga Zoo, presented the San Diego Zoo with our first singing dog, a female, in 1957. (The dog’s species name, hallstromi, comes from Sir Edward.) We received a male the following year. Since that time, we’ve had 30 pups born at our facilities.
Currently, a small pack of singing dogs can be seen along Park Way at the San Diego Zoo. And we have two singing dog ambassadors: Montana at the Zoo and Biango at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They meet our guests up close during animal presentations and make appearances on television. Montana is also a companion for Keeli, a Canadian gray wolf; both are taken for walks together around the Zoo.
Once found throughout New Guinea, it is believed that just a few singing dogs remain in the wild, living in damp, mossy, thickly forested highlands. If the New Guinea singing dog is in fact a true wild dog, then its status is endangered. There are only several hundred documented animals in existence, with the majority living in managed-care facilities. Threats to these dogs include inbreeding, breeding with domestic dogs that have been introduced to the island, and habitat destruction.