Tiger cubs are adorable. Dogs are adorable. Put them both together and you have basically the cutest cuddle puddle in town. At the Cincinnati Zoo, this fantasy became a reality. Resident nursery companion, an Australian shepherd named Blakely, has been taking care of three baby tiger cubs.
This little playdate is ridiculously cute, but it’s also serious business. Blakely has the important job of socializing with these cubs and teaching them how to interact with other animals. She shows them proper animal behavior, which is something that human handlers just can’t do.
“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 Dawn Strasser, head of the zoo’s nursery staff. “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.”
This isn’t the first time that Blakely has acted as a nanny for a little furry friend. In the past, she’s worked with cheetahs, an ocelot, a warthog, wallabies, and skunks. She’s an important companion to these baby animals when their mothers just aren’t around to help.
Blakely is so good at her job that she was even honored by Cincinnati’s City Council. In 2016, she was honored at City Hall for her contributions to animal conservation. They even named October 19th “Blakely Day.”
No matter what type of animal she’s caring for, Blakely is always hard at work. She does a great job of caring for and teaching these little guys how to live their best lives. A mother’s job isn’t easy, but Blakely takes it in stride.
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