An Australian shepherd named Blakely, aka “the Super Dog,” has been tending to three rare Malayan tiger cubs who were born in early February. According to a press release from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the female cubs were ignored by their real mother, so the zoo’s six-year-old nursery dog stepped in to lend a helping paw.
Dawn Strasser, head of Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery staff, explained:
“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. This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”
“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. 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.”
This isn’t the first time that super dog Blakely has provided his snuggly, nurturing services to zoo animals – in fact, he has helped a long list of animals, including baby cheetahs, an ocelot, a takin, a warthog, wallabies, skunks and bat-eared foxes. According to the zoo, last year the City of Cincinnati decided that this special pooch deserved to be recognized for his ongoing good deeds, so they proclaimed October 19 to be Blakely Day!
Blakely’s current charges have all been named: Chira (because she was treated by a chiropractor), Batari (which means goddess) and Izzy (which means promised by God).
When the cubs receive their final round of immunizations, they will be moved to the Zoo’s Cat Canyon where visitors will have an opportunity to catch of glimpse of them with their canine chaperone (at least for awhile…until they outgrow him!).
(Images via Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden)
Find the Zoo’s Facebook page here.