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Eight amazing animal moms

With the celebration of Mother’s Day, we’re thinking about all the amazing moms who feed, nurture, protect, teach and sacrifice themselves for their children. And, it’s no different in the animal kingdom! There are some incredible animal moms who take care of their young through water, on the ice, up in the trees and everything in between. See for yourself:

Polar bears

Polar bear and cub rest on newly formed pack ice along the Arctic coast in autumn. Alaska, Beaufort Sea, USA. © naturepl.com / Steven Kazlowski / WWF

Polar bear and cub rest on newly formed pack ice along the Arctic coast in autumn. Alaska, Beaufort Sea, USA. © naturepl.com / Steven Kazlowski / WWF

Polar bear moms have to make sure they have enough fat reserves to nurse their babies all through the winter when there’s a limited food supply. Polar bear mothers typically have two cubs in each litter. To protect their young from the elements, female polar bears burrow into deep snow and use their body warmth to keep the little ones safe and cozy while nursing.

Common loon

Loon carrying a chick on its back in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. © Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada

Loon carrying a chick on its back in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. © Frank PARHIZGAR / WWF-Canada

Both loon parents take turns sitting on the nest and incubating the eggs. When the chick is newly hatched, it often spends time riding around on the back of mom or dad. This helps the young chick stay warm and avoid predators.

Orca

Three year old female orca and her cub. Puget Sound, Washington, United States of America. © William W. Rossiter / WWF-Canon

Three year old female orca and her calf. Puget Sound, Washington, United States of America. © William W. Rossiter / WWF-Canon

Orcas are social creatures and live in close-knit, life-long pods of about 30. That means mom and her young will be together forever!

Albatross

Black-browed albatross (Diomedea / Thalassarche melanophrys) with chick on nest, part of a large colony, Steeple Jason, Falkland Islands .© naturepl.com / Andy Rouse / WWF

Black-browed albatross (Diomedea / Thalassarche melanophrys) with chick on nest, part of a large colony, Steeple Jason, Falkland Islands. © naturepl.com / Andy Rouse / WWF

Both the mother and father albatross take care of the chick. They often take turns flying very long distances to find food.

Rhino

White Rhino calf, mother and juvenile male in holding pens at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

White Rhino calf, mother and juvenile male in holding pens at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

Rhino moms are very protective of their young. Young rhinos are rarely attacked due to their protectiveness!

Hawk

Adult Ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) with chicks at nest, Canada. © J. D. Taylor / WWF-Canada

Adult Ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) with chicks at nest, Canada. © J. D. Taylor / WWF-Canada

Both hawk parents take very good care of their young chicks, taking turns incubating and bringing food to the young chicks. Usually it is the mother hawk who will sit on the nest all through the night.

Koala

Phascolarctos cinereus Koala Mother with joey (young) Australia

Koala Mother with joey (young) Australia © Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

Like other marsupials, the baby koala, or joey, will spend the first six to seven months of its life inside their mothers pouch.

Elephant

African elephant young calfs with mother. South Africa. Dist. Sub-Saharan Africa. © Martin Harvey / WWF

African elephant young calfs with mother. South Africa. Dist. Sub-Saharan Africa. © Martin Harvey / WWF

Elephant moms carry their young for 22 months! This is the longest gestation period of any mammal. Females give birth every four to five years. Matriarchs also dominate the complex social structure of elephants and calves, while male elephants tend to live in isolation.

Happy Mother’s Day, to all the moms around this wonderful planet!