A zoo in Ohio has enlisted its beloved nursery dog to care for one cheetah cub, who has survived from a litter of three cubs.
Australian Shepherd Blakely is reportedly serving as a surrogate parent for Kris, a cheetah cub born to a first time mother last July 7 at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s cheetah breeding facility.
Caretakers at the facility stepped in, according to zoo officials, noting that baby animals need more than medical care and nutrition. They also said that a single cub does not provide enough stimulation for cheetah mothers to produce the needed amount of milk supply.
“Cheetah moms do not receive enough stimulation from a single cub to produce an adequate milk supply, so the zoo’s expert neonate team stepped in,” the zoo said in a statement.
Blakely already retired at the age of six in 2017 after taking care of a litter of Malayan tiger cubs. He also cared for several cheetahs, an ocelot, a takin, bat-eared foxes, an aardvark, a warthog, and sibling wallabies.
“We can provide nutrition, medical care and some of the TLC that baby animals need, but Blakely can serve as a role model, companion and surrogate parent for them,” Dawn Strasser, Cincinnati Zoo’s head of Neonate Care, said. “Blakely will teach the cub animal etiquette and handle some of the social responsibilities, like snuggling, playing, and disciplining that would typically be performed by a mother.”
Named after longtime Cat Ambassador Program (CAP) supporter Kris Kalnow, the cub will hopefully be moved to the CAP facility in a month or two, where she will get a new companion.
The zoo said they are currently looking for a suited puppy companion for Kris.
“Blakely will most likely return to his home at that time, leaving the puppy to grow up with Kris and be her constant companion for a year or two,” the zoo said.
Right now, Blakely’s nurturing and patience skills are on the works as he sat still while Kris tries to figure out what to do.