In the news recently is a mama right whale who adopted an orphaned calf lurking about the area where she and her little one were hanging out. While we talk often of human mommies and lady stuffs, it’s nice to look outside our species at the charities and sweet instinctual love of mommies from all walks of life.
This story is quite special because apparently mother whales often will not adopt an orphaned calf as adoption can make it difficult to survive with the added burden of another mouth to feed. Twins and adoptions are, as the article puts it, “exceedingly rare” making what this mommy did so special and note worthy.
But let it be said that all adopting mothers regardless of species and survival based difficulties are doing something amazing and special and whether its common or not, taking in a baby that wasn’t born from your womb is a special deal.
So it happened when the mama whale took a break to do mama whale stuff (or as it was told “taking a break”) and the two babes played together (swam together) making this mama change her mind about nursing the dying calf. All seems to be going well for mama and babies!
I can’t help but wonder about the whole bit- mothers, babies, whales and all magic of the world that civilization tries to say only exists within the realm of domesticated human existence.
Did she nurse the baby because she knows that she could do it and whales are struggling to survive and comeback after years of ecological destruction and hunting by people? It has been theorized (and personally I believe this) that whales tell the stories of their culture through song* that varies little by little over time. If this is so, then are you more inclined as a mother of a struggling species to care for other young if you can because you’ve heard and understood the story of your species (culture)? Sure the song observation was made in humpback whales but that doesn’t mean that other whales don’t behave similarly or even communicate between each other.
Did she accept this second baby on her care because her little one started a friendship with the poor creature? A moment of maternal weakness for the happiness of her offspring? As a mother, it’s difficult to see an orphaned child and not care for it and even more difficult when your child becomes fond of the baby not to reluctantly agree to love and nurture a little one. Human arrogance would presuppose that only domesticated human mothers would feel such compassion for another human baby and act in such selfless nurturance. However I don’t think it’s so weird for so termed feral animals or even “indigenous” people to act like this mama right whale. To hear such stories is heart warming to say the least.
Anyway, check out the story via GrindTV for a little breastfeeding, camaraderie, adoption, survival, love and not just love but the instinct to love, nurture, and care for each other… Something we can all learn a little something about. 🙂
*picture is courtesy of African Wings via the GrindTV article
*song (and theorized story telling) via Frankel, Adam S. “Sound production”, Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, 1998, pp. 1126–1137. ISBN 0-12-551340-2