With Mother’s Day soon upon us, we wanted to share with you some amazing examples of the incredible nurturing instincts of the animal kingdom.
By guest blogger Aaron Lax
Mother elephants at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES)
Many elephants across Thailand are stolen from their mothers at a young age and sold into the entertainment industry. Violently forced to follow a horrific training regime known as ‘the crush’, they are restrained physically and suffer pain and are often deprived of food and water. By the time tourists get to ride them or see them performing, their spirit is broken.
At the Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, all the elephants rescued from this fate are cared for by Panton; the sanctuary’s matriarch elephant. She follows her strong maternal instinct to mother them, protect and teach them how to become elephants again so that they settle into their new home and begin to slowly recover.
Mother bear necessities
Bears are renowned for being great mums. Their youngsters are born blind, naked and vulnerable and often when the mother bear is hibernating. They will stay with their mother for several years as they grow.
To provide food for her two cubs, mother bear, Epison, began sneaking into a Romanian town to forage in people’s gardens which worried the local residents. After being caught twice, she was in danger of being put down and having her cubs sent off to the zoo.
Fortunately, our partner the Millions of Friends Association (AMP) stepped in to protect them and move them to a nearby sanctuary. This sanctuary, known as Zarnesti, is made possible by the kind donations from our supporters. Thanks to you, this mother bear and her cubs are now safe in their forever home enjoying dips in their pool and foraging in the woods.
Mother whales keep close
A true big mama, humpback whale mothers stay close to their calves as they grow, often touching flippers in what appears to be a gesture of affection. These mothers nurse their young for nearly a year, and their calves don’t stop growing until they are ten years old.
This strong bond between mother and baby was shown to us by the tragic scenes of Blue Planet II, with a mother pilot whale carrying her dead calf that probably had been killed by the effects of sea plastics. Take a look at our sea change campaign to find out how you can help protect whales and other sea animals.
Role reversal - It’s not just the mums who care
For seahorses, the responsibility of pregnancy and giving birth falls on the male, not the female. This unique twist means that the seahorse father adopts the maternal role, made possible by a pouch on his stomach that can carry as many as 2,000 babies at a time.
The father cares for the young as they grow before he eventually gives birth to them. He does this by keeping the blood flowing around the embryos, regulating the salt levels in the pouch and providing adequate nutrition and oxygen through a placenta-like process.
Spot on Teaching
Cheetah cubs are born without any survival instincts, which means that their mother needs to be on hand to teach them all that they need to know. Cheetah mothers can have four to six cubs in any litter, so this is no easy feat.
These mums will spend up to two years teaching their cubs how to survive in the wild, including lessons in hunting and avoiding predators. Once the cubs can fend for themselves, the mother cheetah can then give birth to another litter to start the process all over again.
Happy Mother’s Day!
We hope you have a lovely day. If you’re looking for ways to help mothers in the wild, please visit our pages to find out more.