Animal Moms: Portraits of Compassion
According to writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the trials of motherhood make moms the great vacationless class. Although she may have been talking about the human variety—the moms who are near and dear to us—other animals show the same tireless dedication to their children. PETA hopes that this Mother’s Day, while you are praising your family’s matriarch, you’ll also remember that some of the best moms in the world are found in the animal kingdom.
Northern Fur Seals
Human mothers tuned in to 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 find their young quickly in a sea of hundreds—or 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.
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.
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. Moms have been known to escape their enclosures and travel for miles looking for their calves.
Dolphins are known for graceful synchronized swimming, but dolphin mothers and their babies also synchronize their breathing for the first few weeks following the babies’ birth. These dedicated 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.
Let’s hear it for single moms! These lightning-fast felines have their paws full caring for their cubs all on their own. Not only does mom protect her children from predators while she is nursing them, she also hunts for them from the time they are weaned until they are 14 to 18 months old. Overly active offspring can make the task of hunting even harder: Cubs often scare hunted animals away with their animated antics, leaving mom so worn out that she sometimes falls asleep in the middle of a hunt.
Nurturing begins in the nest for these caring moms. Mother hens will turn their eggs as many as five times an hour and cluck softly to their unborn chicks, who chirp back to her 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.
This Mother’s Day, please take a moment to recognize the unique bond between mothers and children of all species.