Zoo’s dog acts as surrogate parent for tiger cubs ignored by mother

Zoo’s dog acts as surrogate parent for tiger cubs ignored by mother

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Zoo's so-called "super dog" has stepped into action to provide snuggling and comfort to three rare Malayan tiger cubs born on Feb. 3.

The three female cubs, named Chira (because she was treated by a chiropractor), Batari (which means goddess) and Izzy (which means promised by God,) have been ignored by their mother, according to the zoo.

The cubs would have received similar interaction with their mother, but since being with her is not an option, Blakely the Australian Shepherd is the next best thing.

"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."

6-year-old Blakely has bonded with cheetahs, an ocelot, a takin, a warthog, wallabies, skunks, and bat-eared foxes.

"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."

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