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Jungle-schooled - How the wild learn to be wild

Jungle-schooled - How the wild learn to be wild

It’s very difficult to imagine how a small pink baby grows to be a handsome man or woman. Haven’t we looked at babies and wondered at how fragile they look? In fact, the younglings of all species are initially very vulnerable and clumsy. So, how do they learn to survive? From their parents, of course! Let’s take a look at a few wonderful examples. 

The best teacher-parent in the animal kingdom is reputed to be the Meerkat. This African predator is known to tutor pups to hunt by bringing them injured prey and helping them gradually train to hunt on its own. This trait has also been seen in other animals, but the Meerkat encourages and patiently coaches the young ones, unlike any other species (apart from human beings, of course). 

Another example is that of the Wedell Seal. These seals live in one of the harshest parts of our planet - the Antarctic. A Wedell seal must undergo a 11-month pregnancy before giving birth to its pup in such extreme conditions. And due to the environment, the mother must train its baby quickly. So, when the pup is just two weeks old, the mum coaxes the pup into freezing water to teach it how to survive, and how to make air holes in the ice. 

However, in terms of emotional bonding, Chimpanzees are considered the most sensitive. This is because of their circumstances. A chimpanzee mother gives birth only once in nine years during its lifetime. She then devotes herself to taking care of it for 7 years, forming a very close bond, and allowing it to follow her everywhere. This way, she teaches it all the various things needed to survive in the wild, like recognizing the different fruits and trees, and building a nest. 

Although animals mostly learn by instinct, and usually stay with their parents till they are strong enough to survive on their own, the bond of parenthood is very evident. Either the driving force might be to ensure the survival of the species, or a strong maternal love. But there’s no denying how parents in the wild teach their young ones through practical lessons and demonstrations. This is the natural way of learning to survive and thrive, and applies for us humans as well. Experts claim that children learn over 70% of all they’ll ever know in the first seven years of their life, exploring and satisfying their curiosity. Let’s hope that, along with organic produce and sustainable living, we take a more natural path in bringing up our next generations.

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