Cincinnati Zoo's 'super nanny' retires today - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Cincinnati Zoo's 'super nanny' retires today

Blakely, the zoo's nursery dog is retiring. Blakely, the zoo's nursery dog is retiring.
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

After years of caring for baby zoo animals, Blakely, the four-legged nanny is moving out of the nursery and retiring on Wednesday.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s so-called “super dog” 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.

For many years, Blakely has been the nursery dog at the Cincinnati Zoo. The 7-year-old Australian Shepard has helped socialize and desensitize baby animals, who for one reason or another, couldn't be cared for by their birth mothers.

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

Blakely's got a human partner, Dawn Strasser, the head keeper of the nursery and quarantine. In her 35 years at the zoo, Dawn's been "mom" to lots of babies.

"Probably more than 100 species, and I can't count how many babies," she said.

Strasser said Blakely's job is to be the adult in the room.

"He teaches them the correct social cues," she said. "If you have three little kids together, you have three little brats, they'll bite each other for 10 minutes and just scream, scream, scram and they won't shut up."

Blakely has lived 24-7 in the nursery, but always supervised by a human handler. Over the years, he's helped more than a few Cheetah cubs..

He's also bonded with Dale, a Himalayan hybrid species of a goat-antelope, an ocelot, a takin, a warthog, wallabies, skunks, and bat-eared foxes.

"He would teach him [Dale] to climb rocks, they played follow the leader, Dale would not have walked on a leash without Blakely," Strasser said.

Not any dog could do this job. It took a special personality and temperament, and physically the right size.

"He kind of keeps an eye on them until they leave the nursery and go back to their permanent destination," Strasser said. 

The tiger cubs have moved back to the Night Hunters exhibit, so Blakely's work is done. He'll be going home full-time with Strasser.

The zoo has no plans to replace Blakely full-time with another dog, but was told he may come back on occasion to help out the zoo's human nannies.

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