Maternal instinct in animals

Audio 02:47

François's langur (a species of monkey belonging to the family Cercopithecidae) and his baby born on April 18, 2020 at the Besançon Citadelle zoo, in eastern France. SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

By: Florent Guignard

It's in your nature, and it's Mother's Day, including in animals.


Bambi will never see his mother again. A Walt Disney scene that has, it seems, traumatized generations. A universal symbol of a child's love for his mother. And conversely, we saw baboon moms continue to carry their little dead for days.

The strength of the maternal bond ... What is it about being a good mother? It depends on biology, knowledge and sometimes social relationships. Cécile Garcia, is a specialist in primates at the CNRS and the Musée de l'Homme in Paris.
“  When a female is rather dominated in the social hierarchy, she will tend to protect her cub a lot, herself is already much attacked by other females. A little one who is very protected, who the mother does not let go, will not explore his environment much, he will have less social connection with other individuals.  "

Mother hens, even in monkeys. Most primates only separate from their young after several years. Mothers provide life, food and education; the mental burden is universal.

But the maternal instinct sometimes takes tragic forms. The panda, the adorable panda, if he gives birth to twins, will sacrifice one to secure the future of the other. The black eagle of southern Africa encourages its young to fight, so that there remains only one, because it can raise only one.

Life is sometimes death too. The octopus, at the bottom of the water, watches over its thousands of eggs, which it does not drop from a tentacle, even if it means no longer feeding, to the point of dying starving. Deadly motherhood also for the black spider, which is devoured by its children as soon as they have venom.

And then there is the emperor penguin. An indestructible mother. It is the father who incubates the egg, and she makes an incredible journey each year in the Antarctic winter, to go fishing, and to store, enough to feed her child at birth. The emperor's walk.

Life, the gift that mothers make, sometimes at the cost of sacrifice. For the survival of the species.

The question of the week

"What is the fastest bird?" "

The peregrine falcon. In dive, on its prey, it exceeds 300 kilometers an hour. But in classic flight, the swift stands out, and that's good, today is World Swift Day, but yes, created on the initiative of MSF. But yes, Martinets without borders.

Bigger than a swallow. Cruising speed 200 km / h. And the black swift broke another record: capable of flying, or hovering, 10 months without landing, and that remains a mystery. Maybe he only sleeps with one eye, when the other half of the brain is resting. The two remaining months, the swift returns to earth, for reproduction. Because it's true, it's not easy to get laid

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