Mother’s Day Special- Mothers of the Animal Kingdom

Well on Sunday it’s Mother’s Day and I hope that this serves as a timely reminder for all that usually forget. Rather than take a look at the horrors of human child birth (I still have nightmares of Year 9 Home Economics where they stuck on a video of a live birth, full frontal vag and all), I thought I’d take a look at three of the mothers out there in the animal kingdom that represent the lazy, the awful and the putridly vile (in that order).

Now, first up is a bird. Now bare with me on this. I know birds aren’t that exciting but this one is. I swear. The channel billed cuckoo is one of the laziest birds out there. It’s so lazy that it lays its eggs in another bird’s nest and let’s that bird take care of it. Magpies are often stupid enough to fall for this trick and unassumingly begin taking care of the egg. Even after the egg hatches to reveal a cuckoo, the magpie doesn’t even notice! It just keeps feeding the cuckoo chick until it gorges so much that all the magpie chicks starve. Magpie fail, Cuckoo win!

A growing channel billed cuckoo getting fed by a magpie. Photo courtesy of Jurgen Otto

A growing channel billed cuckoo getting fed by a magpie. Photo courtesy of Jurgen Otto

Okay to a more interesting animal: giraffe! We all like giraffes right? Well the next time you’re at the zoo and gauge up to that spotty long-necked beast, take a look at where its vagina is (sorry there was really no other way to put it). When the giraffe mother gives birth to its young, it does so standing up and because we all like gravity, the baby has no where to fall but down. Yep, that baby giraffe plummets a good two metres straight after birth…You seriously have to watch the video below. It’s just…look you just have to watch it!

Finally we come to the Koala. Now, I promised a putridly vile mother and the koala has got to be it. When we were young, we got fed milk. Nice, nutritious, perfectly yum tasting milk. Koala babies aren’t so lucky. Now you may be thinking that they’ll just get fed eucalyptus or something like that but no, you’d be wrong. Baby koalas get fed their mother’s shit…yep…shit. Honest, shit. Biologists like to call it ‘pap’ but it doesn’t really disguise the fact that the babies are eating shit. It’s so gross so I’m not going to post a picture of it here. Instead, here’s a cute picture of a baby koala:

 

It's cuter when it's not eating poop. Image courtesy of TheGirlsNY

It’s cuter when it’s not eating poop. Image courtesy of TheGirlsNY

 

Having said that, here’s a photo of koala pap in action.

Now just incase you were wondering, there is a reason why the baby koala is eating shit. As you’re all aware, koalas eat mostly eucalyptus. But eucalyptus is pretty tough to digest. In an adult Koala,there’s a whole lot of enzymes in the stomach to assist in this process. Now these enzymes are not just created by the body, rather they’re passed down from their mother. So what better way to pass these enzymes from adult to baby than through their shit.

It’s also for this reason that koalas can only digest the same types of eucalyptus that their mother has eaten. Crucial information that zoos in the past lacked and eventually resulted in the deaths of several koalas who were not given the right eucalyptus. Note: Generic Eucalyptus doesn’t cut it!

Over to you:

  • Do you think the channel billed cuckoo is lazy or a genius?
  • Do you know of any other animal mothers that deserve a mention?
  • Has your perception of koalas changed?

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