The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #169: Parenting in the Animal Kingdom

We’ve been thinking, there’s so much parenting media out there, but it’s pretty species-ist, right? It’s all about how to get your human baby to eat, how to get your human kid to take a bath. But there is a whole animal kingdom out there! How do you get your baby whale to fall asleep? How do you get your teen raccoon to stop eating garbage?

We wanted to know if there’s there anything we can learn from the ways animals take care of their kids. So we made our new producer Jackie Sojico our Senior Animal Correspondent and asked her to find stories in nature about some of the key moments in early parenthood that other species experience, like pregnancy, meeting your kid, and those late nights taking care of a newborn. She talked to three scientists — Anja Junghanns, Tony Wilson, and Dai Shizuka — about some of their research that looked at parenting in the animal kingdom.

Tune in to hear what lessons we can — and can’t — learn from these animal parents.

Photo by Mike Baird

A coot parent with babies

Photo by Anja Junghanns

Baby velvet spiders eating their mom

If you’re interested in going even deeper on the animals from this episode, you can find Anja Junghanns’s paper on velvet spiders in the journal Animal Behaviour, Tony Wilson’s paper on seahorse brood pouch genetics in Molecular Biology and Evolution, and Dai’s paper on the how coots recognize parasite chicks in Nature.

Animals may not be role models, but they are still a fun way for us to talk about our own families.