FAMILIES IN THE WILD
After moving this past weekend I was truly reminded of how much my own family and close friends have helped me to be able to grow and become the person I am today. And I am not the only one to have had the support of parents and a social or “family group.” People are social, and rely on each other to learn to grow and to be successful. But it is not just humans who are “social animals” but there are many incredible species who work together in family groups and communities. Some examples of these animals are: crows (seen in previous post), elephants, gorillas, dolphins, wolves, and many other animals stick together as families in order to survive and thrive.
There are definitely many animals that we overlook when thinking about “social skills.” Animals like the opossum for example, often get a bad reputation as being a pest or a nuisance. . . but they are an amazing marsupial and have their own ways of raising their young. If you’ve ever been out late at night and have seen an opossum mother with her little babies on her back, you’ve seen some of this parental care in action! Those baby opossums are not just getting a joy ride but they are observing and learning from their mother as she shows them how to find food, avoid predators and be an opossum.
Other animals have fascinating family or social structures. Elephants are an excellent example of “social animals” or animals that are incredibly interactive with others (especially families). Elephants have a very fascinating family structure. Their herds are matriarchal with older female elephants leading and are very organized. The social structure is similar to concentric rings, with the innermost circle comprising a family unit of related adult cows (females) any where from 3-25 individual elephant. This family’s main focus is to help the younger calves grow up. The family members will coordinate group movements, foraging, protection, and other social experiences.
The world is full of different families of all shapes and sizes, with different family behaviors and social norms. Take some time this week to check out some animal families near you! Or thank the family or “family group” that you’re a part of! Families are families no matter where you are.