Amazing Animal MomsRoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care May 10, 2021
Yesterday, we celebrated our moms. Whether it was reflecting on fond memories, zooming through separated miles or sharing a meal together, we all can be thankful for our moms for bringing us into this world and for countless ways they have supported us throughout our lives. The cleaning up after us, shuttling us, feeding us, teaching us, inspiring us, the list is endless. Here at the zoo, we also have some amazing moms. The Living Desert’s animals rely on their moms too, some in the same ways and others in different ways.
At The Living Desert, we are proud to have some incredible examples of motherhood in the animal kingdom. Starting with Beatrix, the African painted dog mom, who at 5 ½ years old, has given birth to 2 litters totaling 19 puppies. Now, that is amazing! Beatrix, as the alpha female, is the only female in the pack who will breed. She has proven to be a strong matriarch who disciplines when needed, but also can have a soft, grooming touch. She, along with her mate Kiraka, who always has her back, have raised this pack to be a well-functioning and dynamic animal group to watch. Someday, when the pups leave The Living Desert, they will know how to be a wild dog because of how well their mom raised them.
Dadisi, another popular mom here at The Living Desert, is a reticulated giraffe who has birthed and raised nine calves. She is an attentive mom who also likes her alone time. She keeps a watchful eye but allows the kids to explore on their own and make friends with their herd mates. She sometimes even seems to watch over everyone as the matriarch of the herd, always keeping an eye on her surroundings. At over 20 years old, Dadisi, is at the high end of her median life expectancy, after a life of raising healthy offspring, she now spends her days mingling with the herd, grabbing a drink at the waterhole, or taking a nibble from a tree.
Moving to bighorn mountain, our next moms make their home on the rocks. Unlike the African painted dogs, where only one pair within the pack will breed, the male bighorn ram, Orion, will mate with all the female sheep in the harem. Incredibly, the newborn lambs will be walking and bouncing along following their mothers within hours of birth! Mom keeps a close eye, but very quickly teaches her kid that there is no time to sit still while she maneuvers the rocky terrain around them.
Finally, there’s Uno, the 7-year-old Chacoan peccary mom, who along with her mate, Maury, has successfully raised 2 litters - 3 girls and then 3 boys, with another litter on the way! Uno is an observant mom, who must be quick to keep up with the tiny piglets who will race around the habitat finding all the mischief they can. When the piglets quiet down, she enjoys some relaxing time in the sun or munching on some veggies. Once the piglets mature, they will venture out to find their own way in life, making way for new kids in the herd.
No matter what species, these moms are all amazing. Just like humans, these mothers also clean up, shuttle, feed, teach and inspire. Each adapts to what their species needs to survive and provides their offspring with the best opportunity to thrive on their own. Amazing moms, for sure!
Did You Know..
- Giraffe mothers rely on other females in the herd. They give birth alone standing up after a 15-month gestation but will rejoin the tower (herd) shortly after.
- African painted dog mothers nest in the final weeks of their pregnancy. Expectant mothers will select their burrow and get it ready by cleaning, digging, and making it a comfortable space to give birth and care for the litter.
- Chacoan peccary mothers are protective. When ready to give birth, peccary mothers retreat from the herd to prevent the new offspring from being eaten. A day after the piglets are born they will rejoin the group, and only the older sibling sisters are allowed around the newest members of the family in the early days to weeks.