How does the human maternal instinct compare with that of animals like lions and monkeys? Are mothers' instincts to protect and nurture universal to all species? The Baby Channel visited Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to find the answer.
Read the full transcript »

Dr. Robyn Barbiers: Human mothers may have a maternal instinct just like animal mothers do. They need to protect, nurture, and teach their offspring. In this case how to become humans versus lions who have to teach their babies how to become lions, how to hunt and fend for themselves? We've had two sets of lion cubs born at Lincoln Park Zoo in the last 5 years, and their mothers have been very different. Their current mother Helen is extremely protective. Keepers, when they go into the area to clean, they don't go in, of course, with the lions, but they will shift the mother over and she is very, very watchful. All night, she sat near and here, and I was not able to go in to see the offspring until they are about 6-weeks-old because she is so protective of them. We didn't want to get her upset. Female Speaker 1: There is the instinct to protect, the instinct to make sure they are not bad, and the instinct to put them from any other dangers that might look. Female Speaker 2: Oh, I definitely think so. I was watching the apes especially. It's interesting to watch them holding their babies, the mothers, like the baby is riding on the mom's back, and things like that. The animals definitely seems to be very nurturing, especially the monkeys. I guess we haven't seen a lot of the other baby animals yet. But there's definitely the nurturing and it's the same as with humans. Female Speaker 3: Primates are usually very good mothers, they carry the babies, and the babies will cling to them on their bellies. So sometimes, it's very difficult to get a good look at the babies because some mothers are so very protective that they don't want to show them off. Then we have the extreme, where there are some mother primates that will come over and show off their offspring to the zoo keepers. Dr. Robyn Barbiers: While in the wild, there are a lot of dangers out there and so, it's very important that mothers take care of the babies because babies are very vulnerable, and so nature has provided very well, and it's instinctual for a mother to protect their offspring. Female Speaker 1: Oh, there's a very strong comparisons I think. They very much look out for them. When they are ready to get in danger, they protect them and keep them from getting into danger. Dr. Robyn Barbiers: Mothers are very protective of their babies; you never want to get between a mother and her baby.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement