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Dog Helping To Care for Abandoned Tiger Cubs

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The animal kingdom can truly be a magical place. After three Malayan tiger cubs were ignored by their mother, a dog has taken them into his care to help raise them.

The three Malayan tigers, one of the rarest subspecies of tigers, were born in the Cincinnati Zoo on February 3. But for whatever reason, their mother refused to acknowledge them, leaving the three cubs left to fend for themselves.

The nursery staff at the zoo has taken over their care, but they’ve received plenty of help from an Australian shepherd named Blakely. The zoo staff says Blakely provides “snuggling, comfort, and a body to climb,” something he’s done for several other babies of a different species born at the zoo.

“He’s more than just a large, warm pillow for the cubs,” explains Dawn Strasser, head of the zoo’s nursery staff. “Blakely is the adult in the room. He teaches them proper tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive. This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”

The zoo staff obviously provides the trio of cubs, named Chira, Batari, and Izzy, with food and medical care, but there’s only so much they can do to replicate what the cubs would otherwise learn from their mother. That’s where Blakely has become such an important part of their lives.

“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,'” says Strasser. “So, that’s Blakely’s job. 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”

With Malayan tigers being classified as critically endangered, the three female cubs are all important to the future of the species. The nursing Blakely provides will help the cubs survive and grow up to be part of the zoo’s breeding program.

Right now, visitors to the Cincinnati Zoo can get a glimpse of Blakely and the three tiger cubs in the zoo’s nursery. Later this summer, the three tigers will move to the zoo’s Cat Canyon exhibit.