In the last month, I’ve read a couple of articles that are heartwarming of mom’s of one species nurturing the young in a species not their own. Interestingly, largely the public had very different reactions.
One was a nursing mom who nursed a puppy to save it’s life, the other a nursing puppy he did the same favor for a piglet. Yet the reactions were very different and the human woman was heavily criticized while the story of the dog was “heartwarming”.
It’s funny how strongly our stereotypes guide our compassion. It’s evidence in front of our face even today with all the racial issues still running rampant in the world today. I had an opportunity to explore how I felt about humans nursing animals a few years ago. In the end, my conclusion was- the big deal comes from biases we have built in our head. Perhaps we could learn something if we took cues from the animals and acted more naturally.
A few years ago, I brought home baby kittens- just able to be weaned the day they came home with me. I was holding our male kitten- Panther and he crawled up to my breast and started to try to nurse. I pulled him away and redirected his attention. It may have been easier for me than a nursing mom, I’ve never been pregnant and so I’ve never had milk in my breasts to share with any animal, human or otherwise.
Fascinating Topics of Conversation
At the time, a dear friend who I could talk about absolutely anything was living next door. How do you bring such an odd topic up- Humans nursing animals. I guess when with friends you just spit it out- “This is a little odd but what do you think about…” It turned out to be a great conversation and we went down the rabbit hole looking at our attitudes, initial responses, and our concluding responses I must admit were much different than those initial ones.
We humans are so funny to immediately label things wrong such as kittens and puppies newly weaned trying to nurse off whatever they can find and so on. During the course of the conversation I decided I could benefit from trying to consider the animals view. The kitten had no hang-ups about whether it was right or wrong, it was merely hungry and looking for a way to feed itself, it didn’t say ewwwww- gross, a human! Nor would a human baby needing nourishment say Ewwww- gross, a cat, a dog. It is the nature of the young to look for nourishment from the adults.
How do I go back, what was gross about this? It is the nurturing of the mother, it’s cross species. When there are young involved animals see things differently, there is almost a cross-species collaboration to see that the young survive. Why do we humans think it’s so wrong to participate in the project? Perhaps, it’s our destructive natures, we do seem hellbent as a species on trying to destroy this planet at times.
If animals know instinctively it is only right to help the young live, why is it so weird when it involves humans? I think it’s a process of nature for young to seek nourishment from those nurturing forces in their environment and perhaps if they are not we should be asking ourselves what is wrong? Why are the animals not looking for nourishment in this place?
What If the Picture Was Reversed
How would we see the bigger picture if we encountered say a tiger nursing a human baby. We could suppose it was tragically separated from its mother and the tiger having compassion for the young human took it on to nurture itself. How would you see that? Would you find it as offensive as the reverse picture? If so, I suggest you try to question your prejudice as they are entering some very dangerous territory. Prejudice smothers peace and loving and acceptance, choose carefully what you direct into the world.