"It’s what they do."

May 27th, 2009 10:30 am by Kelly Garbato

While poking around the youtubes for some vegan cooking tutorials (I’ve been craving homemade granola lately), I stumbled upon this heartwarming video. Aired on a local CBS affiliate (?) last Mother’s Day, the segment highlights Lilly, a lab mix who, abandoned and pregnant, made her way to the Burlington, Iowa Human Society. Her six pups were adopted; she, sadly, was not. Sadly but luckily, as the Humane Society soon took in a litter of orphaned kittens, all in need of a mother’s love – and milk. Enter Lilly, who nursed the felines and even rescued one lil’ guy from drowning in her water bowl.

The reporters also point out that Lilly’s isn’t an unusual case; in domesticity and the wild, non-human animals of many species step in to care for the young of other species, some who might normally be their rivals: “For most mothers, it’s just what they do. An instinct so deeply wired into them, that often, all they know is to love and care for life.”

A little cheesy and oversimplified, sure – and, in humans, this sort of essentialism can lead to gender stereotyping and misogyny – but, in many animals, human and non, those sentimental cliches about “a mother’s love” ring true. And the fact of the matter is, when you consume eggs or milk or “meat” (as I’m sure the oooh-ing and ahhh-ing reporters do), you’re exploiting a mother’s love, perverting and severing a relationship so vital to individual and species survival, that many mothers would die protecting their children, need be.

It’s what they do.

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