(MOTHER’S DAY/ANIMAL MOMS) The phrases “Momma Bear” and “Tiger Mom” are so common in the English language that most people don’t dwell too long on their origins. But they are inspired by fierce animal mommies who will go to great lengths to protect their young. The animal kingdom is full of moms devoted to their cubs, pups, calves, and infants. Celebrate this Mother’s Day with the best animal moms.
Elephant herds have matriarchal structures, and the oldest mother is the leader. Elephant mothers are known for being gentle and nurturing. The usual elephant pregnancy lasts around 22 months making it one of the longest gestation periods of any animal on earth! Baby elephants rely heavily on their mothers in the first years of their lives. The moms teach the clumsy young how to use their trunks to eat and drink. They also make sure to protect their babies from sunburns by teaching them how to cover themselves with mud. Motherless babies are adopted by other female elephants in the herd. The elephant herd is very close, and if the newborn’s mom is tired or busy other females will step in and babysit.
Cows are very protective moms. If a young calf goes missing, they will do whatever it takes to get them back, including breaking through fences. They are also very attached to their young. A farm cow from Cortland County went to very great lengths to hide her baby from the farmer who she knew would take the calf away from her.
Polar bears are single moms made from steel. Since the male bears abandon the females almost right after conception, the females have to care for their young by themselves. But they do catch a break in the birthing department. The process is so easy for them that some moms can even sleep through labor! (This is amazing when compared to human birth, so don’t forget to thank your mom!) In the first months after birth, the baby bears are completely dependent on momma bear since they are born blind and deaf. In the next few years, the moms have their work cut out for them. They have to find food, keep the babies safe from predators, and keep them warm. They also have to deal with an overdose of cuteness everyday, which makes for a very hard job.
Dolphin moms take a lot of time to teach their young different skills. They guide the babies to come up for air and how to swim, and teach different swimming positions and how to escape a predator. Although dolphin moms are usually pretty relaxed, they will step in if they think the baby is in risk or headed for danger. Dolphin moms are also open to caring for foster babies.
Gorilla moms are very protective. They will constantly carry their young for the first few months after they’re born. This can get a little bit tricky if the mother has more than one baby. Gorilla moms also nurse their babies up to the age of three, which is considerably longer than most other animal moms.
Orangutans win the award for best step mom. The moms will step in and care for motherless infants the same way she would care for her own. Orangutans also care for their babies until they are eight years old! Orangutan infants are very attached to their moms for the first few years. The moms carry them around everywhere and sleep in the same nest. The dads have almost no part in raising the young ones. Thankfully moms always step up to the task!
— Sonia Horon, exclusive to Global Animal
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