Ten 8-week-old African wild dog puppies, wait for their physical exams at Brookfield Zoo. The pups were born at the zoo on November 26, 2010. Photo courtesy Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo’s African wild dog pack recently grew by 10 little pups.

Six-year-old mother Kim birthed the sizable litter — six males and four females — on Thanksgiving Day. After weeks in a dark, hay-lined nest box, the puppies recently began to emerge and explore the world around them.

“What we wanted to do was give them the full time they needed to be with the mother,” said Joan Daniels, associate curator of mammals. A nest box camera helped zoo staff see the puppies, but their small size and similar color made it impossible to count the pups until they left the den.

The zoo’s wild dog pack includes Kim, her “dominant male” mate Digger, 4, and Digger’s brother, Duke, also 4. The two brothers have spent weeks regurgitating their beef-based diet for Kim, who couldn’t leave her puppies to find her own food. Now Kim is joining them in regurgitating food for the 10 pups.

“This is normal behavior for wild dogs,” Daniels said. “It’s really very exciting to see the social behavior with a group.”

On Thursday the dogs were counted, weighed and vaccinated. Kim’s litter was one of only three born in North American zoos last year. The other two litters are being raised by humans, Daniels said.

The dogs, one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores, should be on exhibit at Habitat Africa! The Savannah as early as March.

An 8-week-old African wild dog puppy, cooperates while getting weighed during a physical examination at Brookfield Zoo. Photo courtesy Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo