A Golden Retriever is now the surrogate mother to a litter of endangered African Wild Dogs at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
When the mother of the three Wild African puppies stopped caring for the dogs, the zoo took action quickly.
“We thought, if we could find a dog these pups would have a great chance,” said OKC Zoo Animal Curator, Laura Bottaro.
The dog the zoo found was an 8-year-old Golden Retriever named, Lilly, who had just given birth to a litter of just one. Lilly's owners are from Wichita, Kansas and were eager to help when they learned of the puppies at the OKC Zoo.
“She is an extremely good milk producer,” said Jaimee Flinchbaugh, who cares after Lilly at the Zoo.
Too much milk production and not enough nursing can be painful for a dog. With four mouths to feed, that is not a problem.
“She showed up just in the nick of time,” said Bottaro.
“She equally grooms, equally nurses and equally checks on them,” said Flinchbaugh.
The zoo takes Lilly on walks and she is free to roam about a section of the zoo hospital and interact with employees.
“She very content,” said Flinchbaugh.
Human contact is limited for the three African puppies, because workers hope to reintroduce them to their pack at the zoo. Lilly's owners visit at least twice a week from Wichita to check on Lilly.
The zoo thinks the Golden Retriever will nurse the puppies for one to two months before returning home with her one puppy.