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Dog serving as mom for rare red panda cubs

Two red panda cubs abandoned by their mother at birth are thriving at a northern China zoo thanks to milk and loving care from a tiny dog serving as surrogate mother.

You can see a photo here.

The cubs, born June 25, were abandoned immediately by their mother after giving birth in front of a crowd of visitors at the Taiyuan Zoo in northern China’s Shanxi province, according to Ha Guojiang, a zoo employee quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.

“No one knew she was pregnant. Her plump body and bushy hair disguised her protruding belly until the babies were born,” said Ha. “We hurriedly went about to find a wet nurse for them.”

The dog wet nurse, belonging to a farmer from a nearby suburb, was selected from two other candidates that had recently given birth, according to an Associated Press story.

The dog is now raising the two panda cubs like its own pups, sometimes even refusing to feed its own pup, said Ha.

At 3-weeks-old, the baby cubs have yet to open their eyes and have doubled in length to 8 inches, Xinhua reported.

Unlike the more well-known, giant pandas, red pandas resemble raccoons with long bushy tails. There are believed to be fewer than 2,500 adult red pandas in the world.

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