Blakely the Australian Shepherd is no ordinary dog, because Blakely loves to care for, teach, and nuture oprhaned zoo animals. The latest animals the dog has taken under its wing are some orphaned cheetah cubs whose mother died after she failed to recover from surgery after delivering the cubs via c-section.
But this isn't the first time Blakely has done this, the male dog has also adopted other baby animals at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Ohio. Blakely's job at the zoo is effectively that of nanny, taking care of infant animals that come there, being their playmate, friend, and helping them socialize.
“When mom can’t take care of them, they need all the help they can get,” Cincinnati Zoo’s executive director Thane Maynard told TODAY.com. “In essence, Blakely is a nursery worker, helping interact and play with baby animals. It’s cute and fun, and yet in terms of those babies growing up, that socialization is an important thing. Having interaction with other animals can help quite a bit. He can help teach those animals to play or even hunt, and how to feed out of a bowl.”
All different species and breeds fall under four-year-old Blakely's care, who's been in his role at the zoo for the past few years. Ocelots, wallabies, cheetahs, foxes, takin, goats, even a warthog.
For the cheetah cubs Blakely will begin by helping the cubs exercise and then teach them boundaries. "His first job is to let the cubs climb on him, which they did as soon as they were put together." said head nursery keeper Dawn Strasser. "They need the exercise to build muscle tone and get their guts moving."
Then as the cubs grow, three boys and two girls, Blakely's role will develop from something warm to climb on, to teacher and role model.
Blakely has previously taught a baby takin to jump on rocks and keep his head butts gentle, and also taught another cheetah cub the difference between a playful bite and starting a fight.
You can see more of Blakely in action with the cheetah cubs in the images and video below.