As I walk down the road, I come across a cow and its calf snuggling in the cold. The love between the mother and its little one is obvious. Every few minutes the mother licks her baby . This is reassurance and the equivalent of a kiss. Suddenly two men come up in a scooter, tie a rope around the baby , heft her up and ride away. The mother runs behind helplessly but the scooter pulls away. Before the night is out, the baby will have been killed in anyone of the illegal butchershops. The skin will go as calf leather, the meat will be sold.
It is not humans alone in which the mother and child bond exists. Every animal and insect feels the same. Imagine your child taken away from you. Cows and sheep and all the animals you eat feel the same grief and anger and helplessness. Cows are excellent mothers who are very loving and protective of their calves—they even take turns babysitting for each other!
A few months ago, a baby elephant traveling with her mother was hit by a truck and her legs were injured. The mother kept trying to help her calf get up. She lowered herself by extending her hind legs so that the baby could suck her milk while keeping humans at bay. Finally when the baby was lifted into a truck , she bellowed and ran after it and had to be tranquilized.We tried to save the baby for two months but she died. The mother remains restless till today.
Jim Williams who runs an elephant camp in Myanmar tells of the time when a mother elephant and her baby were caught in a flash flood while wading in the Taungdwin River. The mother’s feet still touched the ground, so she tried to clamp her baby to her side with her trunk. But the swirling water swept the calf away Lunging after herand using all her strength, this work elephant, who usually hauls logs, did something extraordinary. She lifted her baby up with her trunk, reared up on her hind legs, and set her on a rocky ledge. Then she was swept away.
Three years ago, Milly, my dog gave birth to a single pup who grew into a splendid 6w week old. Then , out of the blue , another female from the 15 in the house grabbed the baby and broke his neck. Milly cried for two days , running round and round the house and howling. It took weeks for her to become normal again. Even now , when she sees the other dog, she wants to attack her.
Mother chimpanzees cradle and rock their infants to sleep. They breast feed, carry them around , teach them things about the world, keep any eye on them when they play and cuff other children if they are too rough. When the baby is born other females in the group gather around and take turns holding and touching the baby. The mother scoops away her baby up at feeding time and whisks him off to a corner to feed.
Richard O Barry a Marin mammal specialist writes about the baby dolphin he saw trapped in a mile-long nylon fishing net . The calf's mother and two other adult females rushed over to help. "They tried to push that baby out—at the risk of tangling up their own fins. The frantic females were unable to free the baby, so O'Barry finally went in himself and cut the net. The mother guided her limp, gasping calf up to the surface to breathe. Even she was exhausted from the long ordeal trying to free her baby. For a while, the other females held up both of them. After the mom recovered, all the adults took turns keeping the baby afloat. In a few hours, the calf had recovered and all the dolphins swam away.
Put hundreds of chickens together. When they are hungry they cheep. Each mother recognizes the call of her own little one. So does a mother bat living in a dark cave with thousands of other bats, Animal Mothers recognize their offspring’s behavior even without words. They respond by feeding them, nursing them or even regurgitating food from their own stomach as wolves and birds do and putting it into the mouths of their babies.
Love between parents and children runs across all species. There are no bad parents in the animal kingdom, according to naturalist Janine Benyus in her book Beastly Behavior .Eighty million years ago - give or take a few centuries – a good mother watched over her little ones while dad bravely defended the nest and tracked down the family's dinner. A typical cozy domestic scene, except that the mother in question is a three-ton dinosaur known as maiasaura - "good mother lizard."
Like human mothers, who bundle their babies in warm, fuzzy blankets and hold them close keeping them from the elements, millions of animal mothers instinctively protect their young from the perils of the outside world. Foxes and badgers push their babies deep into the dens while they sit at the doorway to prevent the cold wind from getting in. Ducks and geese line their nests with downy feathers which they pluck from their own breasts to keep their chicks comfortable. Dogs snuggle around their pups using their body heat to warm them on chilly nights.
Just as human mothers use "baby talk" and gentle caresses to show affection, a normal canine mother spends hours speaking puppy-wuppy. Pied babblers, a small African bird have a completely different language to teach their fledglings.
Some human mothers will risk their own lives to save their children. All animal mothers will. Some birds expose themselves to predators, faking broken wings to lure them away from their nests. Others attack predators many times their size. Japanese carp take small fry into their mouths when danger threatens. Scorpions put their young on their backs and run away. From rats to tigers, a mother will attack if she sees someone approaching her babies.