Animals adopting the infants of other species has been happening for millennia. But it’s an amazing thing to see, especially when the animal has no maternal instinct to stir their actions.
A male Labrador captured the hearts of the internet in 2018 when he adopted a flock of orphaned ducklings.
The impromptu adoption took place at Mountfitchet Castle in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex in the United Kingdom.
After the nine ducklings hatched, their mother suddenly disappeared. So, the human residents brought them into the house. That was when Fred, a 10-year-old lab who ruled the farm, stepped in.
“We brought the ducklings into the house as they are too young to fend for themselves, and Fred just took them under his paw – rather than his wing,” said owner Jeremy Goldsmith. “He’s got a lovely nature and has grown up around rescued animals.”
Mountfitchet Castle is home to many different kinds of animals so Fred is no stranger to interacting with other species.
But it was the first time he had taken it upon himself to parent a flock of motherless babies.
Fred would regularly carry his nine babies around the castle grounds, with them crowding together on his back or his head. The best part? Labradors are known for their love of swimming, and take to water like … well, like a duck.
“[The ducklings] climb all over him, getting up on his head and his back,” said Goldsmith. “When he goes swimming like Labradors like to, all the ducks follow him in and have fun too.”
That was in 2018.
A year later, Fred has made the news again — for adopting six more ducklings. Their mother, a Muscovy duck who went wandering and never came back, needed someone to watch over them. After his first “litter,” Fred apparently got a taste for parenthood. So now, he stepped in once again with six new babies to love and care for.
“Fred indicated straight away that there would be no ducking out of his duties as he settled in around them,” said Goldsmith.
“Within minutes the ducklings accepted their odd-looking new mum and were climbing all over him.”
Now, the 11-year-old dog and his new babes are a happy family, bringing the total of Fred’s children to 15.
These days, the family wanders around Mountfitchet Castle, enjoying the sunshine and the extensive grounds. Now, of course, they also have fans all over the internet who love the sweet old dog and his gang of odd babies.
Mountfitchet Castle was once a hill fort during the Iron Age and then became Norman Motte and Bailey Castle.
It was constructed out of wood and housed Romans, Saxons, and Vikings during its time. In 1066, William the Conqueror led his forces to attack the settlement.
It may be old, but these days, Mountfitchet Castle is all modern. It has its own Instagram account where photos of Fred and his duck family are regularly shared with their followers all over the United Kingdom and the world.
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