As you read in my last post, cheetahs lead a fairly solitary life. At least dad does not stay around, and mom is totally responsible for raising the young. But other animals live together in close, cooperative family groups – especially lions and elephants. The babies are not born knowing how to take care of themselves. Mom (generally) has to teach them the skills they need to survive and instill some discipline.
Did you know that a baby elephant does not automatically know how to use its trunk? It is a learned skill. Here is mom giving lifting lessons to a tiny baby (probably no more that a few months old):
Babies nurse until their tusks get long enough to cause a problem – usually for about two years or three, but we were told it could be up to five years. Mom is very protective, and you often see little ones just hanging out under mom.
When lion cubs are small, the females in the pride often share babysitting duties. As the cubs grow, the adults will leave them in the tall grass, more or less hidden, when hunting. Watching a mother care for her babies is a heartwarming experience. In a later post, I will tell you just how far mother lions go to protect their offspring.
Young lions are a feisty lot, though, and sometimes they need a bit of discipline. For instance, in the shot below, mom was trying to drag the kill to a more secluded place so the whole family could enjoy the meal. But junior was impatient. Smack!
Baboons live in big troops, and they are everywhere. Baby’s favorite spot when on the move is on mom’s back.
They stick close to mom, no matter where they are.