We all want to believe that an animal mom takes good care of her young. But she may not! However, to be fair we need to keep in mind that survival is the driving force of animals. They are acting on the instincts of survival with which they were born. What appears to be bad behavior to us is actually the balance of nature being worked out through survival instincts. Here are my nominations for what we humans would call a bad mom.
Black bears want to have large litters. Since they are taking the time and effort anyway to raise a family, they seen to think they may as well raise twins or triplets. So if a black mama bear has just one cub, she may abandon it and get on with the next litter. From her perspective, she hopes for more than one the next time. Apparently just one cub simply isn’t worth the effort!
Compare this to the giant panda, who only wants one baby at a time. However, she can have up to three cubs in one litter. Only one baby is raised, and the other ones are neglected and eventually die.
The Galapagos shark is considered a cannibal. As babies, they stay in shallow water to keep from being eaten by adult sharks. But later, when the pups are old enough to leave those waters, they are considered fair game and a food source to other Galapagos sharks. Therefore, they stand a chance of being eaten by their own mother.
The African black eagle is definitely in the running for bad mom of the year. Usually she lays two eggs. But then mommy eagle will feed only one of the chicks. The stronger chick will eventually peck the weaker chick until it dies. Mommy just looks on emotionless while one of her babies is being bullied and killed.
Meerkats have a dominate female who only wants her own pups in the group. So she chases off the other females while she has her babies and is temporarily focused on her own motherhood and offspring. The other female meerkats sometimes mate with males from other groups. When they give birth, they try to mingle their offspring with the babies of the dominant female. If this works, good. But if the sneaked-in pups are discovered by the dominate mom, she will kill and eat the female babies.
We usually think of lionesses feeding and caring for all the cubs in their particular pride. However, when a new male takes over the group, he kills any cubs in order to keep them from eventually challenging him for his position as head of the pride. The lionesses allow all of this to happen without objecting. And, of course, not having young cubs, caused the lionesses to go into heat sooner, enabling the new head male to begin his own line.
The cuckoo will lay her egg in another bird’s nest. So another mother takes on the job of hatching and raising the baby cuckoo. The cuckoo egg usually hatches before the other eggs so the cuckoo chick grows faster than the other baby birds. The smaller birds are pushed out of the nest and die. Then the cuckoo gets all the attention of the new parents.
So who do you think is the winner of Bad Mom of the Year?
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