In recognition of Mother’s Day, National Geographic posted twenty-one photos of Beautiful Moments Between Animal Mothers and Their Babies in their Photo Gallery. Included with each photo was a short explanation of some of the more unique and varying mothering methods found in the animal kingdom.
“Every animal can thank a mom for making life possible,” writes the author.
“Some mothers lay eggs, in treetops or on the seafloor, while others labor through long pregnancies and live births. Many moms are on their own, but a fortunate few get help from babysitters or nursemaids. Mother-child bonding runs the gamut of relationship styles.”
Among the twenty-one animals featured in the photo gallery, five live on African soil.
And despite the heart-warming topic, not all the photos conjure up warm and cuddly thoughts.
Emperor scorpion mothers give birth to an average of nine to 32 fully formed young. Here, an emperor scorpion, one of the world’s largest scorpions, carries her immature offspring on her back.
Lion moms may live with their daughters for life. The African lions live in prides dominated by related females, like this cub-wrangling mom in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
During the early weeks of her cubs’ lives, the mother must move them every few days to avoid predators. If all goes well, cheetah siblings stay with their mom for about a year and a half, learning to hunt.
Some cheetahs are supermoms, not only raising their own young but fostering the cubs of others.
Hippo calves are often born underwater. It’s up to Mom to push her calf to the surface to take its first breath.
Mothers are fiercely protective of their young, but they also have a softer side, cleaning and doting on their calves. If its baby dies, mothers even display what some scientists interpret as grief.
Giraffe calves stand within 30 minutes of birth. It’s critical that they do so, as newborn calves are a favorite meal of many African predators.
Before they are born, mom has to endure a 15-month pregnancy, which allows for the development of a six-foot-tall baby with strong muscles and nervous system.