Australian Shepherd Is Surrogate Parent to Orphaned Cheetah Cubs at Cincinnati Zoo
The pup has been called on to “provide snuggling, comfort and a body to climb,” the zoo said
Five cheetah cubs from the Cincinnati Zoo who lost their mother, Willow, over the weekend after a traumatic birth, have found a very unlikely surrogate parent: A male Australian shepherd named Blakely.
As the nursing staff there bottle feeds the premature babies every three hours, the pup has been “called into action to provide snuggling, comfort and a body to climb,” according to the zoo’s blog.
“Baby Duty with Blakely”— the name we’d call the dog’s reality show if he had one — is exceedingly adorable to watch, as you’ll see in the video above.
It’s not the first time the dog, which the zoo calls its “resident nursery companion,” has stepped in to help baby animals in need.
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Last August, the pup was a paw-some mentor to Dale the takin, a baby goat-antelope, who was rejected by his mother after he had trouble learning how to walk. This party of five cheetahs is already benefiting from Blakely’s TLC — they’ve opened their eyes and seem to have good appetites.
“His first job is to let the cubs climb on him, which they did as soon as they were put together,” said head nursery keeper Dawn Strasser, who supervises daily climbing sessions and other interactions with the dog. “They need the exercise to build muscle tone and get their guts moving.”
The cubs — 3 boys and 2 girls — will remain in the nursery for at least 8-12 weeks, the zoo said. After that, they will be hand-raised and trained to be cheetah ambassadors.