Three rare Malayan tiger cubs were born on Feb. 3, but sadly they were ignored by their mother.
Luckily, the female cubs who live at the Cincinnati Zoo are getting some much needed attention from an unusual parental figure.
Blakely, a 6-year-old Australian Shepard has stepped in to help care for the cubs. According to the zoo Blakely provides more than just cuddles. "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. "This is something that their human surrogates can't do."
The cubs named Chira, Batari and Izzy would have received those same skills from their own mom.
Blakely has a caring instinct. In the past he has nurtured cheetahs, an ocelot, a takin, a warhog, wallabies, bat-eared foxes and even skunks.
"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," said Strasser. "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."
Video: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden