Meet Blakely, The Australian Shepherd Who Has Adopted Five Orphaned Baby Cheetahs

31/3/2016

On March 8th, Willow, a five-year-old cheetah, gave birth to five cheetah cubs via C-section at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Cheetah Breeding Facilityin Ohio, US. Tragically, the mother died after struggling to recover after surgery.But the orphaned baby cheetahs have luckily found an adoptive dad in Blakely, a five-year-old Australian Shepherd who acts as residentnanny at the zoo.

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Source: @CincinnatiZoo

The cubs have been receiving critical medical care in the zoo’s nursery since they were born. Nursery staff have been with them every hour, bottle-feeding them and giving them massages, whilst closely monitoring their weight.

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Source: @CincinnatiZoo

But the babies(3 boys and 2 girls) need a bit of furry comfort so the Australian Shepherdhas been brought into the nursery to act as a surrogate parent. It's important the cubsexercise so climbing over Blakely is a great way to get them moving.Head Nursery Keeper Dawn Strasser supervises the cubs' interactions with the canine. She said that the group immediately bonded, commenting:

As the cubs grow, Blakely’s role in their development will shift from climbable companion and hairy warm body to teacher and role model.
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Source: @CincinnatiZoo

Blakely has previously looked after a cheetah cub named Savannah and a baby goatnamed Dale. She taught them both the important difference between gentle bitingand the start of a fight, an important lesson for the cubs to learn once they getbigger.The orphaned cubs will stayin the nursery with their canine companion for the next 8-12 weeks.Watch Blakely and hersurrogate cubsin actionhere:[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9sj2zgygGM[/embed]