Fifteen orphaned ducklings have found an unlikely but experienced foster dad: a 15-year-old Labrador retriever called Fred.
Fred may not look the part, but he is a practiced duck parent. Several times, the dog has taken an orphaned group of ducklings under his furry wing. According to SWNS, in 2018, Fred, then 10, acted as a surrogate parent to nine orphaned ducklings. A year later, Mountfitchet Castle in Essex, England — where Fred is the resident dog — posted on Facebook that Fred looked after another group of ducklings left without parents.
Now, in 2022, the senior dog has become the proud father of a new feathered brood.
These ducklings were left orphaned after their mother mysteriously disappeared from the castle's grounds overnight. After the mother duck didn't return, Fred decided to take over the role of parent by keeping an eye on the baby birds, taking the ducklings for rides on his back, and cuddling with the little animals.
The Mountfitchet Castle recently posted pictures of the Lab snuggling with the baby birds on Facebook.
"Our doting 15-year-old Fred has become a Foster parent for the second time in 5 years, But this time to 15 orphaned ducklings. Well done, Fred," the historical attraction wrote on July 5.
The pictures show the ducklings adorably huddling around Fred's front legs and even on top of him as they lay together in the sun.
Fred's owner, Jeremy Goldsmith, told SWNS that he's not surprised that Fred found a new family.
"Over the 15 years of owning him, Fred has spent a lot of time at the castle with the animals, and it has become second nature to him to be amongst the various rescued animals," Goldsmith said.
The ducklings are expected to remain with Fred at the castle until they're old enough to survive on their own.