Fred the Labrador Retriever, the resident dog at Mountfitchet Castle in England, has become dad to nine orphaned ducklings after their mother vanished.
“The ducklings’ mum had disappeared and a member of staff found them waddling around the castle grounds alone,” the popular tourist attraction in Stansted, Essex, wrote on Facebook. “The team were very worried about the ducklings but Fred, a 10 year old Labrador, immediately took to them and has been babysitting ever since.”
Jeremy Goldsmith, director of Mountfitchet Castle, told the Sun UK, “We knew the mother duck was nesting and then suddenly these ducklings appeared but she was nowhere to be seen.”
They suspect a fox may have snatched their mom. Jeremy, who is also Fred’s owner, is delighted that Fred has stepped up to the challenge, and the ducklings are too. “Fred has got an absolutely wonderful nature,” he added. “They absolutely love him.”
The ducklings jump all over Fred and have begun hitching rides on his back. They also follow him into the water for a swim in the castle moat and sleep by his side.
Fred will be the ducklings’ “dad” for the next few months until they are able to learn how to fly and become independent.