A ten-year-old Labrador has become a surrogate father to a family of nine orphaned ducklings.

Fred, the resident dog at Mountfitchet Castle, Stansted, has taken to his new role as protective dad like a duck to water after being forced to take up babysitting duties last week.

Castle staff initially became worried about the ducklings after spotting them wandering the grounds alone Last Thursday.

It is not known what happened to their mother.

Luckily for them Fred stepped in - and the birds haven’t left him alone since.

A spokesman for Mountfitchet Castle said: “The ducklings absolutely adore him and he has now resigned himself to being a stay at home dad looking after the nine baby ducklings.

“They are getting very mischievous even hitching a ride on his back and following him in to the water for a swim in the castle moat.”

Basildon Standard: