Where's mama?

Published: Monday 31 July 2000

A new study suggests that polar bear mothers may accidentally adopt other cubs because they are not very good at recognising their own. According to the evolutionary theory, animals should adopt offspring they are related to, such as nephews or nieces. But the study, by Nick Lunn and his colleagues of the Canadian Wildlife Service in Edmonton, Alberta, found that cubs recently adopted in the wild were completely unrelated to their adopted mothers. The researchers suggest that polar bears are usually solitary and their ability to identify their cubs might not be very well developed ( Journal of Zoology , Vol 251, p23).

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.