According to writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the trials of motherhood make moms “the great vacationless class.” Although she may have been talking about the multitasking, Blackberry-wielding, van-driving, soccer mom variety, other animals show the same tireless dedication to their children. In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d shine the spotlight on some of the best moms in the animal kingdom:
- Northern fur seals: Human mothers tuned into “Channel Mom” may find themselves responding to anybody’s child when they hear someone calling the “M” word, but fur seals never make this mistake. Fresh from foraging for food, moms have to quickly find their young in a sea of hundreds-possibly thousands-of seals, so both mother and pup depend on their uncanny powers of vocal recognition to find one another. Both will call out and answer, responding selectively to one another until they are reunited.
- Elephants: The “TLC” that these mammoth mothers bestow on their babies is among their most engaging qualities. Always ready to give an affectionate caress, a gentle nudge in the right direction, or a cool bath to help their babies beat the heat, doting moms maintain constant touch with their young ones, never allowing them to stray too far from their side. Mothers even stay in touch with their adult kids and enjoy close relationships with their daughters that can last up to 50 years.
- Cows: For cows and their calves, it’s love at first sight. The first minutes after birth are spent developing a bond that will last a lifetime. Throughout life, mother and child maintain social contact and regularly enjoy each other’s companionship. Their attachment and affection for each other is so deep that if they are forced apart, they both suffer severe stress, and moms have been known to escape their enclosures and travel for miles looking for their babies.
- Dolphins: These brainy marine mammals are known for graceful synchronized swimming, but dolphin mothers and their babies also synchronize their breathing for the first few weeks after the babies’ birth. Dolphins moms may nurse their young for up to 10 years and will also mentor less-experienced females by allowing them to “babysit” as practice for when they have babies of their own.
- Chickens: Nurturing begins in the nest for mother hens, who turn their eggs as many as five times an hour. They also cluck softly to their unborn chicks, who chirp back to them and to one another from within their shells! Once chicks hatch, devoted moms use their wings to shield their babies from predators and have been known to refuse to leave their nests during a fire if they have newly hatched peeps.
Have you known any animal moms who were outstanding in caring for their babies?