Advice from the Animal Kingdom: Mother’s Day

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Stories May 11, 2018 Featured Image

I don’t know about you, but buying a gift for my mom might be one of the hardest things I do each Mother’s Day. Maybe you’re like me and after all of the breakfasts in bed, the sloppy, homemade cards and the bouquets of dandelions flowers throughout the years, you’re still stuck on figuring out the right way to thank your mom for all she’s done for you.

Let’s be real, moms of all species have been crushing it by raising, teaching, loving and cleaning up after their children for a long time – mostly without adequate thanks. We shouldn’t forget what mothers do for us and all the animal children out there. So, on this Hallmark holiday and beyond, here’s how to really show mothers everywhere how much you love them.

#1: Continue to Rely on Mom for Her Sage Wisdom

Moms are super important. Not only do our (human) mothers carry us around for nine months, they also help us become real people.

Orangutan mothers also take their jobs very seriously. Orangutan mothers and their babies have one of the strongest mother-child bonds in nature! For the first two years of a baby orangutan’s life, they rely on their mothers for food and getting around. But the relationship doesn’t stop there: an orangutan mother will be in her child’s life for the next six or seven years!

But wait, why would an ape need its mom for so long?

Turns out, mama orangutans continue to help their babies slowly develop the skills to live on their own: teaching them how to find food, which foods are best, how to build their sleeping mates, and other general adult behavior. Growing orangutans will even continue to visit their moms until the age of 15!

That’s right, orangutans are just like us and get guilted into accepting their mom’s Facebook friendship request so they can stay in the touch. Remember, Mom knows best! After all, she’s probably taught you most everything you really need to know.

#2: Recognize Your Mom Went to Extreme Lengths to Raise You

Human moms around the world will literally bend over backward to help their children succeed (I mean, have you ever seen a yoga mom?).

And that level of passion doesn’t stop with the genus Homo; there are plenty of animal moms out there willing to go to some extreme lengths to raise their children.

The koala might just be the most hardcore mother out there… or the most revolting, depending on how you feel about poop. Koala mothers are known to feed their poop to their joeys as a form of protection. Let me explain.

Koalas eat a diet of mainly eucalyptus leaves. Eucalyptus is poisonous when eaten in large amounts like koalas. Thankfully, a bacteria in the stomach of koalas helps them process the leaves so they won’t die. Koalas aren’t born with that bacteria buddy, however, and joeys can’t eat the eucalyptus leaves right away.

Now here’s the crazy part: for joeys to get this good gut bacteria, they have to get some from their mothers. And that’s where mom’s poop comes in. By eating their mom’s poop, the joeys get some of the helpful bacteria they need to grow up to be adult koalas!

Koalas aren’t the only moms to use poop to their advantage. While it might sound gross, the red-knobbed hornbill also finds poop to be an awesome child-raising technique. When in a dangerous situation, like defending against lizards, the hornbill mom will use her feces to seal up the entrance to their nest. The mom will hole up in these hollows of tree trunks for two full months of incubation, ignoring her own needs to protect her babies.

That’s some pretty metal sh*t, moms.

#3: Don’t Forget to Send Some Love to the Other Maternal Figures in Your Life!

While our moms are the reason we are alive today, we can’t forget about the other parental figures in our lives. There are aunts, grandmothers, sisters, teachers, and so many other women that have played a part in helping us get to where we are today. Without these women, we wouldn’t be the stable, well-adjusted adults we are.

And it’s not just humans who have other mother figures to thank –  there are many others across the animal kingdom as well. Honeybees, orca whales, and meerkats are just some of the animals and insects that live and thrive in matriarchal societies. The most notable of the matriarchal animals and a group the really takes family bonding to the extreme is the elephant!

Elephants rely heavily on the social bond of their herd to survive. Each herd, consisting of anywhere from 8 to 100 individuals, is led by the oldest female. When calves are born, the herd will direct their attention to helping to raise the newborn together! The other females in the herd will help the newborn calf, getting it to its feet and teaching it to nurse for the first time. Its aunts and cousins are often the ones helping to raise the calf, but the rest of the herd plays along as well. As the calf grows and the herd continues to move in search of food and water, the herd will adjust their pace to help the calf keep up. They’ll even stop to teach the calves what and how to eat along the way. You could say they are the savannah equivalent of a large Italian-American family.

Celebrate Your Mom This Year (And Every Year!)

Elephants put in a lot of work to help raise their fellow baby elephants, just like so many other mothers and mother figures around the world. So for Mother’s Day this year, remember to take a step back and recognize the fabulousness of your mothers and all the hard work they put in to make you who you are.

If you haven’t called your mom today, now’s as good a time as any.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Thank you for all you’ve done for us. You’re truly the best.

Looking for more great wisdom from the animal kingdom? How about some dating advice?

written with 💖 by Zak Martellucci

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