Mammals of land and sea nurse just like we do. And, just like us, their milk varies from the milk of other species in order to provide the perfect recipe of nurturing and nutrition for their young.
Each of these adorable mama and baby pairs expresses their devotion to one other through nursing—the first step of parent bonding. We dare you not to Awwww out loud!
Image used under Flickr Creative Commons license from Clara S
Caught in a tender moment, this gorilla pair looks only too human. In fact, human and gorilla lifespan development occurs on a similar timeline.
Elephant Seal Pups and Mom
Image used under Flickr Creative Commons license from Mike Baird
Elephant seal pups like this one nurse on some of the richest milk in the natural world.
Baby Giraffe and Mom
Image used under Flickr Creative Commons license from Kitty Terwolbeck
Giraffe mothers give birth standing up and their calves begin nursing as soon as they wobble onto their own two legs—usually only an hour after birth!
Kangaroo Mom and Joey
Image used under Flickr Creative Commons license from Bev Sykes
Did you know that “kangaroo care” means holding your infant to your chest and sharing skin-to-skin contact? That’s us taking inspiration from the wild.
Sow Suckling Piglet
Image used under Flickr Creative Commons license from U.S. Department of Agriculture
This adorable piglet will suckle for 30% of its life during the first two weeks after birth. It’s a special time between the sow and her offspring.
Tiger Cubs Nursing
Image used under Flickr Creative Commons license from Charles Barilleaux
Two striped tiger cubs enjoy a mid-afternoon snack. In a heartwarming 2012 news story, a dog stepped in to suckle two abandoned Siberian tiger cubs. This proves that mammals can feel the motherly impulse across species.
Bison Calf with Cow
Image used under Flickr Creative Commons license from USFWS Mountain Prairie
Some of the bigger nursing mammals in the world, bison calves are born at a weight of 40-50 pounds! They are distinguished by their lighter brown color, which changes to blend with the darker shade of their mothers’ over time.
As you can see, nursing may look different from species to species, but the crucial role it plays in child rearing is exactly the same. Across the animal kingdom, babies receive their primary nutrition—and their first taste of love—from their moms.