elephants
In order for a new mother to rest and focus on feeding its baby, other mothers in the elephant herd pitch in to care for the newborn. Image Credit: Unsplash/Hu Chen

Mothers – they hold a universally acknowledged special place in our societies, families, homes and hearts. And nowhere is this more evident than in the animal world!

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where “mamma” is one of the words you can create with the letters provided.

From the gigantic humpback whale’s patient devotion to the tiny poison dart frog who shepherds and cares for her helpless tadpoles, animal mums are often just as wise, caring and protective as human mums.

Perhaps the most moving story of animal motherhood occurred in 2018, when an orca named J35 drew international attention for mourning her newborn. Unable to leave behind her dead calf, she carried it with her for 17 days and over 1,600km, off the Pacific Northwest coast of North America.

According to an August 2018 report in National Geographic, researchers speculated why the orca was so attached to her calf, and think it’s because the calf lived for 30 minutes before it died. After 17 months of gestation, J35 was able to form an emotional connection with her baby, and the blow of its death was too much for her to bear. While mourning is common for killer whales, J35’s grief was the longest recorded example of such behaviour.

In another stunning example, elephants embody the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”. It’s common to see newborns cared for by an entire herd of mothers, all of whom take turns watching over each other’s babies. Conservationists call them “allmothers”, since they help ensure newborns’ survival and help give its mother some respite.

Even in the ocean, marine mums are busy being superstars. Octopuses, for instance, lay between 50,000 to 200,000 eggs. In order to ensure her offspring have the best chance of surviving, octopus mums separate the eggs into groups, based on size, shape, and likelihood of survival. Then, over the next two months, she spends day and night protecting her eggs from predators and ensuring they get enough oxygen by pushing water currents towards the eggs. Often, the octopus is so busy trying to keep her young alive, she doesn’t have the time or energy to feed herself, and unfortunately, passes away shortly after her eggs hatch.

What do you think about animal mums? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at games@gulfnews.com.