• Issue: August 2010
  • Illustration: Hila Havkin
  • Designer: Miri Nistor
  • Stamp Size: 40 mm x 30 mm
  • Plate no: 809 (no phosphor bar)
  • Sheet of 6 stamps, Tabs: 6
  • Printers: Cartor Security Printing, France
  • Method of printing: Offset

Not all animals develop alongside their parents, playing and gaining their attention and protection. Many species' young never meet their parents at all. This is the case for most fish, which lay their eggs in the sea, tadpoles that hatch from toad eggs in winter puddles and tiny sea turtles that emerge from the sand and scurry quickly into the waves. But when it comes to fowl and mammals, caring for the young is the norm. These species' young receive the full attention of their parents or mother, who devotedly feed, protect and keep them warm. Even animals that are usually calm and quiet can become very forceful when protecting their young.

And what about us? What is it about young animals that attracts our attention? It has been found that the babyish look of a little round body, with plume or soft hair, making chirping or gentle crying sounds and combined with a degree of helplessness attracts our attention and brings out our maternal or paternal instincts: to stroke, hug, calm, help and protect. Even people who are not considered to be animal lovers can find themselves petting a licking puppy, holding a newly hatched chirping chick or hugging a bleating lamb.

And we are not the only ones who are won over by the sight of a baby. There is a well known film that shows an African tiger just after hunting a female baboon. The tiger suddenly discovers a young newborn clinging to its mother's stomach. The tiger instantly changes from its usual behavior as a bold efficient predator - it sniffs the infant, licks it gently, supports it when it nearly fails and watches over it until its fate is sealed by the absence of a nursing mother.

Most people live in cities and rarely see young animals. Few see chicks, which are born incredibly independent. Moments after hatching they can stand, their eyes are open, they are covered with plume and are ready to follow their mothers and gather their own food. But despite this independence, they are not yet able to conserve their own body heat at night, and huddle tightly under their mothers' spread wings.

Kittens, on the other hand, are born completely helpless: their eyes are closed, their bodies are limp and they lie on their sides, their fur is very short and they can do no more than cling to their mother's nipple and suckle to gain nourishment. it takes about 10 Gays for Their eyes to open  and they only wean off mother's milk at the age of two months. Kittens are known to be mischievous, but what appears to us as innocent fun play is, in many cases, practical training for the rest of their lives — leaping quickly to catch fleeing prey, swiftly reaching out a paw to catch prey with their claws or simply gnawing on their siblings.

Bunnies are born deep inside burrows or in birthing crates when raised in petting zoos or homes, and they are blind and completely helpless. Before giving birth, the female rabbit lines the nest with soft hair that she pulls off her stomach. Approximately four weeks later they are already able to walk alongside her and are slowly weaned.

Dr. Dany Simon
Department of Zoology
Tel-Aviv University

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Animals and their Offspring