Marle and Digger may be small and cute puppies, but make no mistake, warns their handler Matt Williams: these 18-week-old dingoes are wild animals that would never make suitable pets.
The brother and sister pair who live at the Alice Springs Desert Park in central Australia are genetically pure dingoes, meaning they are two of the increasingly rare specimens of the aggressive sub-species of the Grey Wolf.
"They are very, very different to a domestic dog," Williams says as he attempts to keep the agile animals under control.
"That's the message that we really have to get across because they are often so closely associated with domestic dogs."
While many are tempted to pat animals that appear canine, instinctively scratching their heads or ears without expecting an adverse reaction, things work differently with dingoes, which are found mainly in Australia.
"Even though they might look like a dog and have four legs and wag their tail, they are a wild animal and you have to respect and treat them as such," says Amanda McDowell, president of the Australian Dingo Conservation Association.
Yet despite its ferocity the dingo - shown by fossil evidence to have been in Australia for at least 3,500 years - may be in a fight for its own survival, with some fearing that interbreeding with wild domestic canines could see it become extinct.
McDowell believes that the animal's demise cannot be stopped, only delayed.
"It is truly on the brink of extinction. A lot of people have the perception that there are plenty of dingoes still out there," she told AFP.
"But in actual fact, they are all just cross-bred dogs, they are not pure dingoes."
She says the animal's plight is "exactly like the thylacine" - the mysterious striped canine beast known as the Tasmanian tiger, the last example of which is believed to have died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. More....