Dog cuddles up with tiger cubs at Cincinnati Zoo

(Courtesy: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden)

CINCINNATI, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- The three female Malayan tiger cubs not only have names. They have a new member of their care team: a dog.

Blakely the Australian shepherd is their resident nursery companion and has been a nanny to several zoo babies. His baby-rearing resume includes experience with cheetahs, an ocelot, a takin, a warthog, wallabies, skunks, and bat-eared foxes.

The six-year-old has been called into action to provide snuggling, comfort and a body to climb, the zoo wrote in its blog.

The tiger cubs have been cared for zoo staff since they were born on February 3 and ignored by their mother.

“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.”

The cubs names are:

  • Chira, since she was treated by a chiropractor
  • Batari, which means goddess
  • Izzy, which means promised by God

Last year, City of Cincinnati recognized Blakely’s nurturing nature and proclaimed October 19 to be Blakely Day.

Officials said the cubs will move to the zoo’s Cat Canyon this summer after they have received their last round of immunizations.

Visitors may catch a glimpse of them with their canine chaperone through the nursery suite windows for the next few weeks, when they'll inevitably outgrow him.

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