Unique motherliness made more unique

Dhaka,  Tue,  06 December 2016
Published : 14 Oct 2016, 21:40:26
A CLOSE LOOK

Unique motherliness made more unique

Nilratan Halder
Adoption for people is not instinctive. Infertile couples look for adoption for various reasons. Hollywood celebrities and a high profile couple in the United States of America have adopted a number of children from as diverse places as Africa and Vietnam. In fact, the duo has adopted too many children. But they are not infertile. They have their own children as well. Now that the two are on the verge of officially parting ways, it will be quite intriguing to see how the children's custodianship is settled.

If that famous case of adoption has drawn many people's attention, there is another in our backyard no less interesting. To many, it may perhaps be more mysterious and captivating. At the centre of this filial affection is a kitten and the adopters are a primate couple. A motherly monkey in an animal park in Moulvibazar, Sylhet took pity on an abandoned kitten and started breastfeeding it. Her companion too started liking the kitten. Now both share their food with the favoured adopted animal of a different species.

This is quite revealing. In the animal kingdom strangest of things at times happen. One of the Nature channels, made a documentary where a lioness took care of a baby oryx to the extent that she forgot her meal only to accompany the little one. Both became emaciated because neither had the supply of proper diet. Another such story comes from Kenya's Samburu national park where a lioness adopted as many as three baby oryxes. Many think the lioness had mental disorder or was psychologically arcane. Sure enough, these are the strangest of all known adoption stories. Lionesses are naturally inclined to making a meal of animals living on grass. Oryx is grass eater. But defying all rules and orders, those two lionesses have proved something that cannot be explained by logic.

Should the primate's motherly care in Moulvibazar animal park be also considered a deviation like that of the two lionesses. If that is so, there appears on the scene the monkey's companion which is a male. The two are behaving like parents in a family and raising one outside of their species. If oryxes are larger animals than lionesses, cats are puny compared to monkeys. More importantly, although there are some common food items both monkey and cats like, quite a few others are not on the menu in each case.

Primates are closer to man on many counts. Banana is favourite with both of them. There are a number of fruits and food both relish. Can it be that the primate couple have some instincts similar to human beings? Motherly instinct is stronger than usual in the female monkey and the fatherly in the male one. It is a kind of unique transcendence from one species to another. Amazing, the kind of parenthood demonstrated by the monkeys is likely to give people some food for thought.

Usually animals are caring as long as their young ones are small and defenceless. Once they reach a stage of adulthood in the wild, the babies are forced to leave and find their own territories for hunting. This is mostly done in order to avoid inbreeding. Usually, the male babies in their adulthood are not allowed to stay with the herd. However, when the pups are very small, parent -- mothers in particular, are staunch defenders of the young ones. There are of course, rules contrary to this.

Up to a certain stage, though, most animals cannot be differentiated from human beings when it comes to caring for offspring. Motherliness is heavenly -whether it concerns animals or human beings. Mothers take the greatest possible risks in order to feed their young ones although the siblings of some compete ferociously with each other for survival. Some baby birds and animals grow rapaciously murderers even at a tender age. They instinctively nudge the weaker out of the nest or simply bite and kill those to ensure that they enjoy the monopoly of the food their parents bring them.

Adoption of babies from another species, therefore, in the animal world remains mysterious. Will the kitten in the Moulvibazar animal park grow into a big cat or face maladjustment in the later life? A cat can climb trees but certainly has not the agility to jump from one tree to another. After all it cannot defy the principles of its genes. Breastfed by monkey milk though, make it stronger than its kind. Cats are fond of cow milk too.

Many things are now known to people, courtesy of the National Geographic, the Discovery and the Animal Planet. But still a lot remains to be known. The fact is, of the wonderous life cycle, man's is just one position that is also quite unique.
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