It’s not unusual for animals to cross-foster – that is, feed the offspring of other species. I always say that animals have great maternal instincts!
But one thing we haven’t seen before is a golden retriver feeding an amur leopard cub… or at least, until now.
This species of far-eastern leopards is critically endangered – there are only 19 to 26 amur leopards living in the wild in Russia.
Luckily, these proactive zookeepers in Vladivostok, east Russia, have made sure that this special little cub is well taken care of!
This newborn cub was seperated from her mom and placed in the care of zoo staff due to concerns over the cub’s safety.
“We decided to take the [cub] only because her mother – leopardess Alain – has eaten the previous three litters of her cubs,” said Viktor Agafonov, a veterinarian at Vladivostok Zoo.
“We can’t say for sure why this happened. But we decided not to risk another baby.”
As any parent knows, looking after a newborn is tough, especially keeping up with their demanding feeding schedule.
Luckily for this cub, she was placed in the care of foster mom Tessa.
The golden retriever already had four puppies of her own, but was more than happy to take care of this little guy, with milk, cuddles and comfort.
The cub enjoyed a varied diet to help her grow big and strong. As well as being fed by Tessa, the zoo keepers gave her formula milk with glucose and other necessary additional ingredients.
As the cub grew bigger, the zoo keepers worked hard to ensure she had suitable companions to play and socialize with.
They found the cub a lioness and tigress friend who were the same age as and a similar size to the Amur leopard cub.
What a happy gang of pals!
The big cats each have their own unique personalities.
“The tigress is quieter. But the lioness (Astra), keeps jogging and playing,” Agafonov says.
But that’s not all! The zoo keepers wanted the three cubs to have a new and different friend to socialize with. They chose a junior Alabai or Central Asian shepherd dog, as these dogs have the best size and temperment to socialize with the cubs.
“We decided that she should be kind and sociable puppy friend. She should also have the appropriate size and proper psyche. Here the Alabai shepherds are suitable,” said Sergei Asnovin, director of the Vladivostok Zoo.
The zoo-keepers predict that the friendship between the cubs and the puppy will last around 1.5 years, but if they really hit it off, they could be friends for even longer!
The tireless work of the staff at Vladivostok Zoo shows how cross-fostering can help save the lives of cubs of rejected by parents or orphan infants, especially for species who are threatened by extinction.
What a wonderful initiative! Watch it for yourself in the clip below:
Thank goodness for hard-working animal heroes like the staff at this zoo, who try to make sure we don’t lose these precious endangered animals.
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Published by The Animal Bible. Please like.