A zoo’s resident dog nanny stepped in to become a surrogate mother to orphaned cheetahs.
Last March, zookeepers from the Cincinnati Zoo delivered five cheetah cubs via C-section. Their mother, Willow, did not survive the procedure, leaving five orphaned cubs.
In a statement, Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard said that Cheetahs are known to be fragile cats who go through difficult pregnancy and birth. Maynard added that the whole staff is devastated by the loss of Willow. Although they are thankful for her contribution to their species’ survival, the zookeepers regret that they could not save both the mother and her offsprings.
Worrying about the baby cheetahs, the management sought the help of Blakely, an Australian Shepherd who helps the zookeepers by being the resident nanny at the Cincinnati Zoo. Blakely officially stepped in as the surrogate mother of the five cubs! Part of the dog’s responsibility as a new parent is to teach the cubs the right behavior.
The baby cheetahs took an instant liking on Blakely. They would play and climb all over him, proof that he has the cubs’ complete trust. As the cheetahs grow bigger, they view their dog parent as their role model. Blakely tries his very best to teach the litter the difference between behavior that’s “okay” and “too much.”
According to zookeepers, the Australian Shepherd is a natural. Younger animals easily trust him and would always listen to him. Before Blakely became a surrogate parent for the cheetahs, he already took a takin (a goat-like animal) under his wing. Aside from the said animal, Blake also took care of wallabies, a fox, and an adorable warthog! All of these baby animals learned a lot from the kind and caring dog.
Zoo management let Blake stay with the cheetahs until they are old enough to be on their own. In the meantime, they will continue their stay in the zoo nursery with their “mom” until they are well and healthy. According to Thane Maynard, they will do everything at Cincinnati Zoo to help in the conservation of this amazing species!