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© Zagreb Zoo

PHOTOS: Motherhood in the animal kingdom, according to the Zagreb Zoo

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Written by
Lara Rasin
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Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there! 

To celebrate the wonderful things mothers (of all species!) do for their children every day, the Zagreb Zoo has posted a series of photos showcasing motherhood in the animal kingdom.

We've compiled the Zagreb Zoo's interpretations of what various animal mamas have to say (including their very own, and very cute, hashtags):

Hanuman langur mamas

'They say we're very protective mothers, and you'll soon understand why.

Female hanuman langurs from other groups are known to kidnap babies - and we mothers will risk our lives in order to bring them back. To better protect our babies, we stay in the middle of our group as much as we can, always surrounded by other members of our family. 

Our pregnancy lasts about seven months and our babies stay exclusively with us for the first week of their lives. Gradually, we allow other females in the group who have also recently given birth to take care of our babies as well.

And so, in the end, we all take care of all the babies and help each other. #FamilyLove'

Red panda mamas

'During the winter, I search for the right male mate, leaving my scent on the ground to summon him down from the trees. After all, safety comes first. As they say: #SafetyFirst! After our encounter, we usually break up and don’t see each other anymore. This actually suits both of us because, after all, we’re total introverts and love to keep our distance.

But let’s get back to motherhood. Ours begins with a pregnancy lasting around four and a half months.

About six weeks before birth, we become visibly 'round', sleepy and slow. And then a few days before our due date, we actively start collecting nest material. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they say that human females also start cleaning the house and 'nesting' when the time of birth approaches. We are similar, similar indeed!

We usually have one to four cubs per litter. It's especially interesting that we spend up to 90% of our time with our cubs during the first few days of their lives. We rarely separate from them - except when we go searching for food, but even then we return to the nest every two to three hours to feed our babies - and do some cleaning.

We are avid cleaners, it is what it is. #CleaningAddict'

Giant anteater mamas

'Do you think it's difficult for you to carry your babies? I would say that it's a bit harder for me because first, my pregnancy lasts somewhere around six and a half months, and then, I carry my baby on my back non-stop - for the next nine months! 

Within seconds of being born, my baby immediately climbs onto my back. And that's not all, while it 'rides' on my back without a care in the world, it can grow up to half my size!

What's very interesting is that my baby immediately looks just like an adult anteater: it has thick fur in our colours, a long tail, and an elongated head. 

Two years after being born, my baby becomes independent and ready for life. As for me, new babies and new challenges await - I just stay strong and remember that there's #NoQuitting!'

Grant's zebra mamas

'What can I say, the life of a mother is not easy.

First, it's eight months of pregnancy, and then, when the day of birth arrives, I must retreat into solitude to protect my foal from predators. It’s not easy to separate from your loved ones, which I’m sure you already know yourself, but in my case, it’s necessary.

My foal can weigh up to 32 kilograms, which is not easy to bring into the world. When it's born, I take care of it for the next seven to eleven months - as long as the breastfeeding period lasts.

One of the many great things about us zebras is that 10 to 15 minutes after we are born, we're already standing up. Within an hour, we're running.

There's a very strong bond between us mama zebras and our foals. The first few days after birth, it's just the two of us. No one from the herd approaches us until everyone realizes we have a new member that they can recognize by smell, voice and looks.

However, the time for separation must always come - and it usually occurs when I'm ready for a new foal, which is about a year or two after the first. #ParentingIsHard'

Meerkat mamas

'We meerkats become mothers several times in one year. On average, we can have three litters a year with three pups in each.

Our pups are born blind and deaf and are completely dependent on us. They can't even go to the bathroom without us encouraging them and reminding them that they have to!

As early as two months after being born, our pups can start eating solid foods (more precisely, insects) and other delicacies that we adults also collect and eat.

As we are extremely social animals, our groups can consist of up to 30 individuals - and all individuals that don't reproduce care for the pups.

We even have 'kindergartens' of which older females are in charge - they take care of the young while the rest of us are out collecting food.

We are very organised and therefore successful in maintaining the large number of our groups, which we mamas greatly appreciate since our family helps make our motherhood easier. #OrganisedMum'

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