Simultaneous multiple‐calf allonursing by a wild Masai giraffe

Allonursing is when mothers nurse young that are not their own. It is rarely seen in wild giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis). Pratt and Anderson (1979) reported that of 860 observations of nursing attempts, 37 were by an unrelated calf, and just one succeeded in sustained nursing. Saito and Idani (2018) documented only five of 76 allonursing attempts resulted in sustained nursing. Typically, the mother appeared unaware that the nursing calf was not her own, and thus, these studies concluded that the instigators of allonursing were unrelated calves stealing milk from unwitting mothers. Here, we report an instance of simultaneous allonursing by three giraffe calves in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. This case is unusual in that the lactating female appeared to be aware of all three nursing calves and allowed nursing for an extended period of time (>1 min).

Publish DateMay 7, 2020
Last UpdatedJanuary 28, 2021
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