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Motherhood in the Animal Kingdom

The instinct of motherhood never ceases to amaze us, and the animal kingdom is no exception. Numerous animal mums astonish us by the way they go the extra mile to rear their young, sacrificing their bodies and, sometimes, even their entire lives. However, since not all mothers deserve a Mother’s Day card, many animal mums have questionable parenting styles; that is the way life is, isn’t it? Other animals have quite weird habits that would make you cringe. So, let's give a shoutout to the ultra-adorable epic mothers of the animal kingdom and some bad-mom awards for the master neglecters.

Elephants

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The elephant gives birth to the largest creatures in the world, for elephants weigh about 100 kilograms. Elephant calves are blind at birth and only get in touch with the world with the help of their mothers. That is why, the bond between elephant calves and their mothers is one of the strongest in nature. Elephants are found in matriarchal communities, where all females cooperate to help a calve stand to its feet. Aunts, sisters and grandmothers are directly involved in the rearing process. Elephant mothers help their calves adjust their pace while walking with the herd and access the necessary plants they need to eat. So, it literally takes a village to raise an elephant child.

A short video footage filmed by Sandy Gelderman in Kenya went viral on social media as it depicted the attentive instinct of elephant mothers at its best. The footage showcased an elephant mother running towards her baby who was about to drown in Nero river. Mama elephant rushed towards her calve and extended her proboscis. The little calve held onto the proboscis, which kept its head out of water. Other elephant females no sooner stepped in and managed to get the calve out of water.

Monkeys

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Monkeys go all out for their babies: A monkey mama sticks by its babies for two full years, nursing round the clock. After they reach puberty, monkeys might even quarrel with their over-protective mama to let them separate from her and start leading an independent life. How adorable! Mama monkeys share their meals with their babies, clean their hair, and help them keep stride with the wildlife. Moreover, incredibly enough, monkeys grieve and mourn their chimps when they die. In 2012, LA Zoo gave Gracie, a monkey mama who lost her chimp, a private room alone to spend her bereavement period. This earns monkeys a leading spot in the most doting mothers in the animal kingdom. Besides, monkey fathers are also outstanding since they participate a lot in the caring process; a monkey dad is known for being one of the most I-will-push-the-stroller daddies in the animal kingdom.

Leopard Tree Iguana

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If you feel that your mother didn’t give you enough quality-time when you were young, thank God that you weren’t born an iguana. Leopard tree iguanas give their babies only 48 hours of their precious time and abandon them after sealing up the den exits. The iguana mama never returns back to her babies after hitting the road. Wondering about what the imprisoned babies eat? Well, no need to worry; the iguana mama won’t leave their babies to starve after all. She leaves their babies along with many piles of her poop enough to fill in their rumbling stomachs… Yikes! Thanks for nothing, mum!

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In the iguana’s defence, sealing up the den is not just another bad-mom quirk; it is a tactic said to help keep predators and preying birds away. Moreover, her weird parting gift is reported by scientists to be so nutritious and valuable for the little babies. After the babies grow up; they become strong enough to open the den and get themselves out. Well, leopard iguana is not an evil mama after all; she is just busy and can’t afford a nanny, so she resorts to such a bizarre tactic. Maybe, we should feel better now about our mediocre maternal habits?

Polar Bears

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Polar bears are one of the most affectionate nurturers in the animal life. They go through an epic pregnancy ranging between 195 to 265 days. New-borns are born so fragile and in dire need for constant care, which is aptly given to them by their over-protective mama. Polar bear mothers are full-time babysitters though they work round the clock to fend for their babies. A mother sometimes carries her cubs on her back through areas of deep snow or water while hunting. The little cubs learn hunting by watching their mother and try to collaborate with her, though not so successfully. By the time the cubs reach the age of two, they finally begin to bear fruit. After feeling reassured that the babies are able to provide for themselves, the mother prepares herself to breed again.

Hamsters

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Hamsters are known for their cute appearance and cuddling qualities; however, sometimes appearance contradicts reality. Hamster mothers would let their babies pay the price when it is not their fault. A mama hamster would eat her own offspring if she is not well-fed; starving for extra protein while she is breastfeeding, a female hamster would peck at her weak babies and treat them as breakfast. We know this is “survival of the fittest” after all, but surely, it is a bad-mama quality and a rough start for the baby hamsters who saw their mama eating their siblings because she needed a protein fix! However, sometimes this horrifying incident occurs because of human intervention. Scientists indicate that when humans touch hamster offspring, the human scent confuses the mother into treating her babies as meals that could be eaten when the munchies start hitting. So, if you have a female hamster, make sure not to touch her babies when they are young.

Quokkas

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Quokkas are known for their captivating smile that never fades, but don’t let their irresistible smiles deceive you. According to a scientific research published in 2005 on Wildlife Research, female quokkas would throw her babies away from her pouch when threatened by predators. Such an anti-predator in-born tactic allows her to redeem herself by satisfying the predator’s appetite with the meat of her offspring. What’s worst? It is also said that while quokkas are fleeing enemies, their babies tend to make crying noises to express their fear. Such noises tend to attract predators and make him locate their target easily. As a result, the mama expels her baby to protect herself. Moreover, scientists indicate that the quokka’s behaviour is not accidental or unintentional because the mama is able, due to her strong muscular control, to keep the babies in her pouch while running. So, among all bad animal mothers of the world, quokkas win big time.

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