African Painted Dog conservationist returns to the Quad Cities

COAL VALLEY – As part of the effort to bring African Painted Dogs to Niabi Zoo, expert Greg Rasmussen is sharing the story of the critically endangered species with Quad Citians in a series of lectures from April 27-29.

Mr. Rasmussen, of Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT), is making his fourth appearance in Niabi’s Conservation & Science Speaker Series. Stops like these are part of his wild dog awareness and fundraising tour throughout the United States and Europe, visiting zoos, universities and donors. 

“As a conservation partner with Niabi Zoo, Dr. Rasmussen and his team led field conservation efforts to help protect the endangered African Painted Dog,” Niabi Zoo said in a release. “Niabi will be hosting him for multiple speaking engagements at local universities as he presents Challenges and Triumphs: Protecting the endangered Painted Dog in a human dominated landscape.”

Mr. Rasmussen has studied painted dogs in their natural habitat for more than 30 years and founded PDRT in northwest Zimbabwe in 2014, according to a Western Illinois University-Quad Cities (WIU-QC) news release. The painted dogs have unique tri-colored coats, fluffy white tails and oversized Mickey-Mouse ears. 

“I am thrilled to return to the states to reconnect with friends and associates, and deliver an update on PDRT’s targeted programs aimed at the conservation of painted dogs and their surrounding habitat in Southern Africa,” Mr. Rasmussen told WIU. “Delivering this urgent message in person allows me to reestablish strategic relationships, inspire activism and support and educate the public about this extraordinary, persecuted species that I have devoted my life to studying and protecting. They are running out of time if we don’t act now.”

His stops include:

  • 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 27, WIU-QC, Moline, Riverfront Hall, Room 111 (open to the public).
  • 7 p.m., Thursday, April 28, St. Ambrose University, McCarthy Hall, Room 013 (open to the public).
  • Friday, April 29 at Augustana College, Conservation Biology course (staff and enrolled students only).

Register here. Be sure, however, to do so by the Tuesday, April 26, deadline. RSVPs are required. While the event is free to attend, donations are encouraged to help save painted dogs. For more information, contact Curator of Conservation & Education, Joel Vanderbush, at 309-799-3482 ext. 222 or

Niabi Zoo has been an active partner with the PDRT in the development of their field education programs, the news release said. It has provided strategic planning material to support hosting bush camps for local children at PDRT’s Sizinda Conservation Ecology Center and leading education outreach programs into Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Niabi staff also helped prepare and launch PDRT’s new website at   

African painted dogs are among many animals that get caught and killed in snare wire. Poachers often use wire snares to kill wildlife in the African bush. PDRT works with local communities in Zimbabwe to remove this wire to protect animals. To prevent the wire from ending up back in poachers’ hands, the snare wire is shaped into artistic wire sculpture, which will be available for sale at this week’s campus events. Every purchase helps support painted dogs and the communities working to protect them. 

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.