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Whether they have fur, fins or opposable thumbs, moms all over the world (animals and humans alike) do so much for their sweet babes. They love them, make sure they have enough food, give them shelter, teach them survival skills, do lots of messy jobs and lots of cuddling too. If there’s one thing mamas know, it’s that all the hard work is worth it.

Giraffe mama cleaning her baby

If you think your pregnancy feels long at 37 to 40 weeks, you’ll feel some serious empathy for giraffes. These mamas are pregnant for OVER a year, then they give birth standing up. Just like human mothers, giraffe moms bond with their calves immediately after giving birth. We bond with snuggles, but giraffes bond by licking their babies clean of amniotic fluids. Yum! Shortly after birth, mama giraffes then encourage their calves to stand and nurse.

 

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Panda snuggles from mama

Newborn human babies feel totally tiny and helpless, but panda babies are even smaller (especially compared to their giant panda moms—they are only about 1/900th the size, according to National Geographic). They also can’t crawl OR see for months. To keep them safe, Panda moms cradle their cubs constantly.

An Emperor Penguin Family snuggling up together.

It can be a challenge to navigate feeding a baby—whether you’re learning to nurse or figuring out formula (not to mention starting solids). But if you’ve seen March of the Penguins, you know that mama penguins travel up to 50 miles away to catch fish after they lay their eggs. Then they travel all the way back to their babies to regurgitate the fish into their chicks’ mouths. Making sure their babies are fed requires a long journey, lots of risks and major commitment.

 

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Clinging to mama sloth’s belly

Being in labour is tough enough for humans, but can you imagine giving birth in a tree? That’s what the world’s slowest moving mammals, sloths, do. After baby sloths are born, they cling to their mama’s belly for up to six months (until they’re ready to feed themselves). Then they stay by their mama’s side for two to four years.

 

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This baby elephant feels safe and cozy hiding under mama

Elephant mamas might be some of the sweetest moms around. Not only do their pregnancies last for almost TWO years (bless them), they also go to great lengths to meet their babies’ needs. They even change their diets to include anti-inflammatory plants to help their baby cope with painful incoming teeth.

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Baby monkey cozy in mama’s embrace

When we gaze upon our sweet babies, we can’t help but exaggerate our facial expressions, talk in a higher pitch and smooch their sweet cheeks. Turns out, monkey mamas are the same, according to a study in Current Biology. “They smile at them and exaggerate their gestures, modify their voice pitch—the so-called ‘motherese’—and kiss them,” says researcher Pier Francesco Ferrari. We don’t blame them–baby monkeys are super adorable.

 

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The sweetest snuggles between this Orangutan mom and her baby girl

Orangutan moms do pretty much everything for their adorable babies. In fact, according to World Wildlife Fund, the bond between an orangutan mother and her young is one of the strongest in nature. That’s probably because Orangutan moms spend the first two years of their baby’s life as their sole source of food and transportation. Then they spend six to seven years teaching them where to find food, what and how to eat and how to build a nest to sleep in. Female orangutans have even been known to visit with their moms when they grow up.

 

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A calf is born, and stays close to mama for kisses and snuggles

Cows, like humans, develop a strong bond with their babies after giving birth. Sadly, dairy cows are usually separated from their baby within hours of giving birth, which causes extreme emotional stress. “The calves will engage in repetitive crying and become more active,” says Daniel Weary, an applied animal biologist at the University of British Columbia. “And sometimes you’ll see a decline in their willingness to eat solid food.” Turns out, human and animals babies alike all need their mamas the same way.

 

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A piglet stays close to mama, where it feels safest.

Can your baby recognize your voice in a room full of other mamas? Piglets can. In fact, a team of British scientists found that piglets that were only 36 hours old responded to recordings of their own mother’s calls, but most piglets ignored similar sounds from other sows. That’s why it’s even sadder that most piglets are separated from their moms shortly after birth.

 

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Adorable newborn dolphin frolicking in the ocean with its mama

Mama dolphins and their calves have strong, long-term bonds. Some dolphins have even been documented nursing their young for up to ten years after birth (though most dolphins nurse for two to three years) according to Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Dolphin mamas are committed to teaching their babies everything they need to know–how to catch food, stay safe from predators, socialize and play with other dolphins and navigate their way around their home base.

 

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