When it comes to self-sacrifice, the mother harp seal deserves some recognition for her hard work. She feeds her newborn pup for 12 days continuously without eating. The pup will gain an average of 2.3 kilograms per day from the nutritious milk she gives, but mom herself will lose more than 3 kilograms each day during this time.
If you’re looking for an outstanding mom, one of the most notable has to be the sea horse—because the sea horse mom is actually a dad! The eggs grow in dad’s pouch, and during his “pregnancy,” he provides them with everything they need to develop.
The longest pregnancy award goes to the African elephant, who endures a remarkable 22 months before giving birth to her calf. African elephants also care for their young for a long time, with a calf feeding from his or her mother for up to six years!
The female giant Pacific octopus is a very protective mother, laying up to 200,000 eggs in a lair and defending them passionately. She cares for them for one month, refusing to leave them even to eat, and will sometimes even ingest one of her own arms to prevent death from starvation! Once the eggs hatch, she ventures out to try and find food but is often so weak and frail that she falls victim to predators.
One of the more famous examples of devotion in the animal kingdom is the bond between Emperor penguin parents. This pair is monogamous, and mom and dad take turns with parenting duties—while one cares for their eggs and offspring, the other journeys almost 120 kilometers across the ice to reach the sea and find food. Their bond is so strong that they can locate their partner and offspring among crowds of other penguins.
The bond between parents and offspring is one of the many examples of the similarities between human and nonhuman animals. We should take the time to consider the effect that our lifestyles have on these sensitive animals and try to make more compassionate choices every day.
So before you have a glass of cow’s milk or eat a baby octopus, think about the mother cow who bonds with her calf within hours, only to have him or her torn away after a day to be used for milk or slaughtered for veal, and the octopus mom who has literally given her own arm to try and secure a safe start for her baby. And use that as your inspiration to take the pledge to go vegetarian.
Posted by Claire Fryer