1. ITV Report

Dog becomes unlikely surrogate dad to nine ducklings at Essex castle

Fred and the ducklings now do everything together. Credit: Mountfitchet Castle

A dog in Essex has 'adopted' nine little ducklings after their mother disappeared.

The baby birds were found wandering around lost and alone by a member of staff at Mountfitchet Castle near Stansted Airport.

However, the castle's resident 10-year-old labrador Fred took them under his paw and has been babysitting them ever since.

The ducklings regularly hitch a ride on his back, and even "follow him into the water for a swim in the castle moat", staff said.

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A spokesperson said the team at the castle were "very worried" when they first realised that the ducklings' mother had gone:

"The team were very worried about the ducklings but Fred, a 10-year-old labrador, immediately took to them.

"The ducklings absolutely adore him and he has now resigned himself to being a stay-at-home dad looking after the nine baby ducklings."