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This Remarkable Dog Became A Dad To A Litter Of Orphaned Cheetah Cubs

An Australian shepherd has been cuddling with a litter of cheetah babies after their mother died weeks after giving birth through a rare cesarian section at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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An Australian shepherd named Blakely is supporting the cubs after their mother, Willow, died a few weeks ago following their birth through a rare cesarian section on March 8.

Cincinnati Zoo / Via Twitter: @CincinnatiZoo

Vets at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden said they hoped the 5-year-old cheetah would recover from the birth, but she became lethargic and lost her appetite.

They added that "without the C-section, we likely would have lost both the mom and the cubs." Cheetahs are endangered, and there are about 12,000 in the world today.

Zookeepers said that as soon as Blakely met the baby cheetahs he took on a parental role.

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"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 Strasse. "They need the exercise to build muscle tone."

As the cubs grow, their dog dad will serve as a guide and role model.

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Watch the cubs cuddling with their adopted dog dad:

View this video on YouTube

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Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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