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WATCH: German Shepherd adopts zoo lion cubs mistreated by their mother

When a lioness at a Russian zoo is spotted biting her newborn cubs, staff fear the cubs won't survive, that's until an unlikely surrogate mother steps in to help.

By Zoë Monk

Published on the 30/10/2020, 21:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:24

Staff at the White Lion Park in Vladivostok in Russia had to remove two newborn lion cubs from their mother after they spotted her biting one of them.

It was Sirona the lioness' first time as a mother, and her behaviour towards her cubs was very unusual for a mother lion. Staff were growing increasingly worried for the newborn cubs who were very thin and dehydrated.

Foster mum Sandra

Once the little cubs – a male and female - were removed from their mother, the staff needed to find a way to help them put on weight. So they turned to Sandra for help. But while Sandra has four legs and a tail, she isn't a lion. Sandra is a German Shepherd!

The Park's faithful German Shepherd had recently given birth herself to one puppy, so the staff put the cubs with her in the hope that she would feed them.

Healthy, happy cubs

Despite not usually liking cats, the eight-year-old foster mum was more than happy to bring the two cubs into her family. While she only has one puppy now to care for, in the past, she had fed eight puppies so has plenty of milk to go around.

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It is unusual for one animal species to foster the babies of another; however, Sandra's milk has all the necessary nutrients for the cubs.

While the kind-hearted canine may have just done what came naturally to her, she helped to save their lives. Thanks to Sandra the cubs are now at a healthy weight and can look forward to a bright future at the Park.