Rare Malayan tiger cubs – named Chira, Batari and Izzy – were born last month at the Cincinnati Zoo and were sadly ignored by their mother after birth.
That’s when six-year-old Australian shepherd Blakely stepped in to take over on ‘mom’ duty.
“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.”
Although staff can feed and care for the cubs, they can’t teach them the difference between a play bite and a warning one. That’s where Blakely comes in. Spending time with him will help them learn behaviors that will guide them toward success when they are introduced to other tigers at the zoo.
These cubs aren’t the first or only animals that Blakely has helped raised. He has also cared for cheetahs, skunks, and wallabies, just to name a few. Impressive!