Love Ya, Mom!

By Hannah Schardt

This Mother’s Day, remember to thank moms across the animal kingdom—including yours!—for all they do.

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KEEP US CLEAN!
The South American tapir above gives her baby a gentle lick. Many animal moms spend lots of time grooming their young—and not just because it makes the babies look better! Dirty, smelly baby animals are easier for hungry predators to sniff out. Also, when a mom snuggles up with her baby to lick or comb it, that creates a strong bond that helps the two communicate.

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FEED US!
Thanks to Mama Grebe, the great crested grebe hatchling (top left) gets a meal AND a ride. For now, the fuzzy little grebe is too young to catch food on its own. So Mama caught it a fish that’s almost too big to eat! Above, a mother manatee floats peacefully while her baby nurses from a nipple behind her flipper. The little manatee will drink its mom’s rich milk for as long as two years!

TEACH US!
To a chimpanzee, a mouthful of antlike termites is a real treat! The chimp mom patiently shows her little one how to use a stick to “fish” for the tasty insects in a termite mound. Above right, trotting along a beach behind its mom, a grizzly bear cub is ready to pick up a few pointers on how to find and eat clams. Cubby will watch as Mama Bear digs up a clam, pops it open, and slurps out the meat!

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CARRY US!
The sea otter mom (top left) cradles her pup on her chest, fluffing the pup’s fur to fill it with air. This keeps the little otter afloat whenever Mom makes a quick dive for food. Desert scorpions are born live, not hatched from eggs. They stay safe on their mother’s back for a week or two while their soft shells turn hard (above left).

VIDEO: WATCH A LOVING SEA OTTER MOM!

KEEP US SAFE!
The giant Pacific octopus mom (top right) wraps her long arms around her eggs in a sheltering hug. She will guard the eggs until they hatch—for as long as six months! Above right, a mother khur tucks her baby close as she fends off a group of dogs. Those dogs have sharp teeth. But Mama Khur has hooves and isn’t afraid to use them!

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PLAY WITH US!
Tag, you’re it! Above, a mother hippopotamus almost seems to smile as her playful baby chases her underwater. The cheetah mom above right lies tolerantly in the grass while her cub uses her as a jungle gym. At right, when playtime’s over, Mama Skunk carries Baby off to bed. Oops! She stepped on its tail! Oh, well. No one is perfect—not even moms.

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