An Australian Shepherd Dog Helps Raise Orphaned Cheetah Cubs After Mom Dies
Lifestyle| | By Margo Gothelf
An Australian Shepherd dog has taken on an unlikely role at the Cincinnati Zoo.
When the mother of five cheetah cubs passed away earlier this week, the male Australian Shepherd dog, named Blakely, took on the task of being their “mother,” helping to raise the little cubs.
They “immediately bonded with Blakely,” Michelle Curley, a Cincinnati Zoo spokesperson, told ABC News. “They climb all over him.”
For the newborn cubs, the climbing acts as a form of exercise, helping to build muscles and “to get their bowels moving, which is very important,” Curley shared.
The cubs spend about an hour with Blakely twice a day. In addition to helping the cubs exercise, Blakely “provides comfort” and has snuggle time with the newborns.
The cheetah cubs’ mother, Willow, died from complications of a C-section birth two weeks after the cubs were born. However, the zoo’s vet shared with Curley that the cheetah cubs were not likely to survive if the birth had not been a C-section.
“It’s rare for them to actually survive C-section births,” Curley explained.
While Blakely is a great help, the cubs do not solely rely on him. Zookeepers help feed the cubs and take care of them when Blakely isn’t around. Once Blakely comes to visit, “they are very excited to play,” shared Curley.
Blakely has been helping out at the zoo for about five years now since he was rescued from a local shelter. The dog has previously helped out another cub named Savanna, a baby calf named Dale, and some wallabies.
“He keeps them company when they’re little,” Curley said. “Then they move on.”