Taking care of a baby is hard work, whether you’re a human, a cheetah, or an otter. While animal species have many different needs in their young years, one thing is a constant-those years are spent in close proximity to mom. Unlike humans, however, it’s pretty common for animal babies to leave as soon as they’re able, often at only a few months or years old.
That doesn’t mean the y don’t love their babies. The survival of a species depends on getting them ready to survive on their own.
Cheetahs stay with their mama for about two years. As a top-ranking predator, it’s really more about learning how to hunt than it is protection.
For the first 6 months of their lives, the babies of the Verreaux’s sifaka species cling tightly to their mother. This is important because this particular primate likes to leap wildly from tree to tree.
Humpback whales tend to be loners, but being a child isn’t one of them. They spend their first year right next to their moms.
Penguins are known for their co-parenting skills, with mom and dad sharing incubation and child-rearing duties.
The unsung hero of the animal parenting world is the mama possum, schlepping all of her babies everywhere she goes.
The similarities are striking as we get closer to humans on the animal family tree. Orangutans build shelters for their kids each night and children stay with their moms for years.
Here’s something that might be familiar to human moms; bald eagle mothers feed their chicks first, and they eat only what their baby rejects.
The most protective animal mother? Just walk into just about any park in the spring or summer and look for a swan (or Canadian goose), and see what happens when you get near her downy darlings. It’s not pretty.
Mother seals can recognize their pups’ voices.
Baby crocodiles ride in their mothers’ mouths until they’re old enough to swim.
Mountain goats are known for their agility on steep slopes and rocky terrain, but until they gain those skills, mom’s there to keep them safe.
What’s a hyrax? This is a hyrax, and, interestingly, these furry little fellows are closecousins to elephants and manatees, not the rodents they resemble. They takr care of their young by creating nursery groups and take turns at the job!
Baby otters are born in the water, but it takes them a while to learn to swim. In the meantime, they use their moms as rafts!
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