The Web of Life (121-3-8) Bonding


Maternal bonding is the norm in mammals. For an infant, separation can be agony. Contact with mom brings contentment, whether it is primate cuddling its child or a rodent carrying its youngling by the scruff of the neck.

From humans to mice, mammalian infants become calm and relaxed when they are carried by their mother. This infant response reduces the maternal burden of carrying and is beneficial for both the mother and the infant. ~ Japanese social behaviorist Kumi Kuroda

Baby mandrills¬†are born with open eyes and a coat of hair. They cling tightly to their mother’s belly as she walks or climbs. Infant primates hold onto mom for dear life as she makes her way through the trees or otherwise moves through the forest.

A female mandrill stays with her mother into adulthood. A male leaves when it reaches sexual maturity.

It is common that one gender of juvenile primate leaves a troop while the other stays upon reaching adulthood, depending on mating practice and social dominance hierarchy of the species. Regardless, a child is not forgotten by its mother.

Maternal bonding is ubiquitous in social mammals, notably elephants, dolphins, primates. Gaining parenting skill is but one facet of what is commonly a richly rewarding emotional experience.

Parental bonds often continue throughout the lives of parent and offspring, at least in memory if not in everyday life. In practically all animals with extensive post-natal care, quality of parenting is passed to the next generation by example, for good or ill.