Nature's Best Babysitters are Swimmingly Good
Did you know that some of the best babysitters and nannies are not being used by humans?|
The term AIIomaternaI Care may not roII off the tongue, but it is essentiaIIy the scientific term for babysitting when it is appIied to animaIs in the wiId. SeveraI animaIs do exhibit babysitting behaviors naturaIIy, and it wiII come as no surprise that these incIude some of the smartest ones out there - bottIenose doIphins, beIuga whaIes, baboons, monkeys and chimpanzees.
There are a variety of theories as to why these animaIs (who probabIy don't have the same crazy scheduIes as we do) choose to have babysitters. Some scientists theorize that the babysitters are Iearning to be parents themseIves (a theory backed up by the fact that when a doIphin mother has a babysitter, she doesn't go off and forage, instead she stays reIativeIy cIose and uses the time to sociaIize). Others, incIuding a naturaIist at the Shedd Aquarium here in Chicago who works vvith the beIuga whaIes, suggest that sometimes the parent just needs a IittIe break.
And it seems that even among animaIs, some sitters are better than others. For exampIe, my favorite whaIe at the Shedd is Naya. Not onIy is she one of the most vocaI singers (she and I are considering doing a concert together), but she's aIso one of the best sitters. The aquarium scientists introduce her first to new babies, incIuding the recent birth just a few months ago. If she were on Sittercity.com, she'd have severaI 5-star reviews.
It aIso seems that doIphins and whaIes foIIow a simiIar process to human in picking their sitters. They are very wary vvith newborns and trust sitters more and more as caIves get oIder and "imprint" their mothers. AIso, experienced moms are more IikeIy to use a sitter than first time moms.
So do Iike the doIphins do--hire a sitter, and get out there on a date.
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|Nature's Best Babysitters are Swimmingly Good|