Environment

Here Are The Supermoms Of The Animal Kingdom

Mother- the word itself stirs up a whirlpool of emotions within us. Loving, nurturing, caring, protecting, guiding, our mothers mean the world us! And so it does to the adorable animal babies that share our planet as they too have moms just as doting as ours. It is not only Homo sapiens, but the rest of the Animal Kingdom is also replete with examples of moms who would go to any extent, make humongous sacrifices, and even fight to death to protect their babies. Here are some examples of the Supermoms of the Animal Kingdom:

The Fiercely Protective Tigress Moms 

A tigress cuddling her cub. Image credit: Baranov E

When it comes to being a super-protective mom, the tigress is renowned for this quality. History is teeming with many examples where the tigress engages in extreme fights with powerful predators to protect her cubs, sometimes even losing the battle and her life in the process. Survival is a constant challenge for tigers, and being a tiger mom is even tougher. Hunting is not as easy for this apex predator as we think because the prey species of these animals are also equipped with enough defense mechanisms to make a tiger pant. And for the tigress, she has to hunt not only to feed her own stomach but also that of her cubs. A research study published in the journal Mammal Research revealed the sacrifices made by a tigress to be a successful mom. Researchers found that Vavarra, a female Amur tiger, changed her behavior after becoming a mother to safeguard and nurture her cubs. She gave up defending her territory, wandered less, made larger and fewer kills, and rested very little. By changing herself and making sacrifices, she ensured her cubs remained protected and nurtured well.

The Super-caring Crocodile Moms

A mother crocodile with a hatched offspring. Image credit: Catchlight Lens

No one knows better about a crocodile mom's love for her babies than Nicolas Mathevon, an animal behavior specialist, who decided to test a croc mother's love. In 2007 in Guyana, he rode a boat playing a previously recorded distress call of an infant croc. Hearing it, an enraged mama crocodile suddenly tried to lunge at his boat. However, just in time, he switched off the record, stopping the mama croc mid-air. Further research into the crocodile mother-offsrping bond revealed that these much-feared water predators are actually one of the most loving moms in the animal world. Researchers discovered how croc infants make peculiar sounds inside their shell before hatching so as to alert the mother croc to welcome her new offsprings in a safe environment. In fact, infant crocodiles have also been recorded making sounds to attract their mothers when needed. 

The Nurturing Hyena Moms

A spotted hyena mother and infant in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Image credit: Simon Eeman

Spotted hyena moms definitely deserve a mention on this list. Prior to giving birth, these supermoms hunt for a den that is away from the communal den of their clans and has only a single entry-exit point. After giving birth, these moms remain with their offsprings for around two weeks when they develop a strong bond with their children. After the two weeks are over, they gradually introduce them to the members of the communal den. The milk produced by these hyena moms is one of the richest in nutrients among the terrestrial carnivores. The cubs are nursed for almost two years which demands a huge energy investment on the part of hyena females, especially when the hyena males do not participate in the child-rearing process.

The Super-attached Orca Moms

A mother and calf orca breach in synchrony. Image credit: Monica Wieland Shields

In 2018, media was flooded with reports of a female orca named Tahlequah mourning for her dead calf for 17 long days! Ken Balcomb from the Center for Whale Research was quoted saying “I have never seen that kind of grief." The calf died only half an hour after birth and Tahlequah carried her baby's body on her with help from relatives who also joined her in the mourning. The orca relatives also occasionally carried the calf on them and fed Tahlequah during the mourning period. Not just Tahlequah, orcas have displayed such affection towards their calves many times in the past. So, while we tag orcas as "killer whales" for their exceptional hunting strategies, as mothers they are the softest of all beings.

And Of Course, The Gentle Giant Moms

Baby elephants are highly pampered and protected by the female members of the herd. Image credit: MartaSer

The towering elephants, the largest terrestrial mammals, can be the gentlest of mothers. Elephant mothers carry their babies for almost two years before giving birth. The baby elephants are the most pampered of all. Elephants herds are matriarchal in nature where adult female elephants participate in child-rearing. They are extremely protective of their young ones and have often been captured rescuing the baby elephants as one united group when needed. These ladies also teach useful skills to their babies and ensure they get top quality food. So, elephant babies are the luckiest in that they have not just their biological mom but several supermoms dedicated to their care!

More in Environment