Mother Dog Nurses Pups...and Panther

By: CBS News
By: CBS News

A canine mother has an unusual addition to her litter of puppies - a baby black panther.

When baby panther Milica was born less than two weeks ago at Belgrade Zoo in Serbia her mother rejected her.

Since then, the baby cat has been nursed by a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a breed of dog indigenous to South Africa.

AP Television footage showed the tiny black cat vying with her adopted siblings for her share of the milk, but she managed to claim a teat for herself.

Her adoptive mother clearly regards Milica as one of her own, enthusiastically licking her in a show of motherly affection.

Dragan Petrovic, a zookeeper at Belgrade Zoo, said that Milica's own mother had been traumatised during NATO air raids in 1999 and no longer accepted any of her offspring.

Normally, Petrovic explains, the zookeepers care for the rejected baby panthers.

But this time the panther's birth coincided with a litter of Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies.

"She (the Ridgeback mother) accepted the young panther, and now she is feeding the cub herself," said Petrovic.

The zoo says that the Ridgeback mother is gentle with the newest member of her family and that the baby panther is extremely lucky to have been adopted.

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