African wild dogs, native to the vast and beautiful sub-Saharan Africa, are making the Los Angeles Zoo their home for the first time in nearly 40 years. The African wild dog is an endangered species. It is estimated that the total population is fewer than 5,000 dogs. L.A. Zoo's pair of dogs, courtesy of New York’s Bronx Zoo, is two of just under 150 African wild dogs in zoos across the United States. These dogs are part of an aggressive plan to try and preserve the species. A number of zoos, including the L.A. Zoo, are looking to help wild dog conservation efforts by participating in the Species Survival Plan Program (SSP) established in 1981 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The program tracks a species’ genetic ancestry so that appropriate mates can be found for the animal in question. For example, the L.A. Zoo has two wild dogs, but since they are brother and sister, it would be inappropriate to breed them. In the future, if the Zoo were to receive a breeding recommendation, the Zoo would work with the AZA to locate suitable mates for the dogs. A zoo that has a compatible mate would then exchange that animal with the L.A. Zoo so that the quality breeding programs could continue.