The helpful canine keeps things in check when the 1-month-old Malayan tiger cubs get "too rough or aggressive," the zoo says

By Amy Jamieson
March 14, 2017 01:51 PM
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Blakely the Australian shepherd is back on baby duty!

The Cincinnati Zoo’s resident nursery companion is pitching in to help another group of baby animals get the TLC they need.

The rare Malayan cubs — named Chira, Batari and Izzy — were ignored by their mother shortly after their birth in February, and the 6-year-old has been called on to provide some snuggles and so much more.

“He’s more than just a large, warm pillow for the cubs. Blakely is the adult in the room. He teaches them proper tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive,” said Dawn Strasser, head of Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery staff, in a post on the zoo’s website. “This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”

With quite the impressive resume that includes caring for cheetahs, skunks, wallabies and more, Blakely, says the zoo, is the next best thing to mom.

“My team can feed and care for the tiger cubs, but we can’t teach them the difference between a play bite and one that means ‘watch out.’ So, that’s Blakely’s job,” Strasser added. “Just a little time with him at this early age will help them learn behaviors that will come in handy when they meet tigers at other zoos in the future.”

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The 1-month-old cuties will be in public view through the nursery suite windows for the next few weeks.