When a child enters the world it is the job of the parent to make sure that he or she acquires the skills that are needed to survive this wild and unpredictable world. Even though we humans are raised differently from the hamadryas baboons and river otters, there is much that we have in common with them.
In a move that was made by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) four hamadryas baboons, Martijn (a male), and three females, Maya, Maud, and Krista, have relocated from the Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands to the Oakland Zoo. In addition to having new baboons we welcomed the birth of Martijn and Maya’s baby, Mocha (our first baboon birth in more than two decades). Mocha is the only child in the baboon troop (group).
Mocha’s upbringing is somewhat similar to raising a child. During her infancy, Mocha will be nursed by Mama Maya before she ventures out on her own (Daddy Martijn is not as hands-on when raising Mocha, but has been seen disciplining her if she gets out of line). Therefore Mocha will stay with her mama for some time. Maya will give her child rides around the Baboon Cliffs Exhibit (where the baboons reside). Maya will also teach Mocha how to eat food properly so that she’ll be able to eat meals such as rabbits and protein-rich insects. Other females in the troop will provide Mocha rides but if she doesn’t approve then she’ll call her mom for a ride. After 10 months, Mocha’s black hair her will change to brown indicating that she is no longer a baby. Once that happens Mocha will be mature enough to stand on her own. (Translation: No more free rides). However, Mocha will not be separated from the troop in the near future, but will find a new family when she is of reproduction age, which is around three to four years of age.
On February 24, 2013 Ginger, a river otter, gave birth to three male otter pups. Their names are Kohana, Hinto, and Shilah. Under the care of our zookeepers the pups were provided with health and care through weekly checkups and swimming lessons. The river otters can be seen at the River Otter Exhibit. The pups at the zoo have been off exhibit for two months. Now they are ready to make themselves known to the public.
An otter pup is born blind and does not begin swimming immediately until he or she gets the proper care from the mother. After a few months the pup ventures out into the wild and learns how to swim. Initially baby otters don’t know how to swim. Just like us humans we have to be taught how to swim. The mother would show her pup how to swim by dragging/pushing them to the water so that he or she can get used to the water. It may look harsh but that’s how the otter operates when they show their kids how to swim. Once a pup gets acquainted to their aquatic surroundings he or she begins to master the ability to swim by using webbed feet and a streamlined body to go through the water. Once that happens they will be able to hunt and travel in the water for a long amount of time (otters can swim for six hours).
The need to pass on what we learned to other creatures presents a commonality for all of us human and animal alike. Therefore one could say that we are not so different from the hamadryas baboons and river otters.