28 August 2008

Dog Nurses Tiger Cubs

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? The mother of these tiger cubs couldn't produce enough milk, so zookeepers in Hefei, China, enlisted this dog. She began work when the cubs were one day old, on May 2, when this picture was taken. This isn't the first time a dog has played wet nurse to tigers at the Hefei zoo, which organized a similar arrangement with another dog last year.

It may not even be the oddest recent example of cross-species suckling. As of February, India's Namatia Ghosh, 46, was still breastfeeding the pet monkey her husband found orphaned several years ago. "He is my son," she told BBC News. Not to be outdone, Hlah Htay, 40, helped a Burmese zoo feed two tiger cubs in April, according to the AFP news service.

The cubs had been separated from their aggressive mother. Tigers are born toothless. In the wild they nurse for about six months but begin eating meat after six to eight weeks, when the mother begins sharing her kills.

[Source: National Geographic]