Sometimes animals in captivity will reject their young. There are a variety of reasons why they might do this, including the fact that they simply might never have had the chance to learn how to take care of their offspring as they would have in the wild. Here are six examples of baby animals that had to face the world alone… until a helping human stepped in to become ‘mom’.

Alexander the Meerkat

 image source:
 © Richard Austin/REX Features
Poor Alexander was born out of wedlock and had to suffer the consequences. His mom, a subordinate female in the meerkat clan, had mated with a sibling. Typically, only the alpha male and female get to mate, and babies born in other couplings are rejected. Luckily, staff at England’s Exmoor Zoo stepped up to help the wee little ‘kat. He will soon graduate from drinking half a milliliter of milk every two hours to scarfing down porridge and scrambled eggs. Not a terrible life, if you ask me.

Zawadi the Aardvark 

 © Caters News Agency
© Caters News Agency

Born pink, bald – and alone. Zawadi was abandoned jut hours after his birth at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fl. The animal experts at the park stepped in after they noticed momma Aardvark wasn’t really ready to join the leagues of parenthood. Zawadi is one of only 35 Aardvarks in zoos across North America.

Mr. Woo the Wallaby
© REX Features
© Xinhua/Reuters Photo

Oh, Mr. Woo, I’ll take care of you! This albino wallaby wasn’t wanted by his mother after he was born looking a bit different. The poor animal’s weight plummeted as he was starved of food and affection – and his owner was forced to take him to the Secret World animal centre in Highbridge, Somerset, in a desperate bid to save him. Fortunately Mr. Woo made a full recovery and even gained a new friend in the process! The wildlife carer who took him in had a Doberman Pincer that fell head over tail in love with Mr. Woo and now the two are inseparable.

Estela the Spider Monkey

It was all hands on deck after little Estela was abandoned by her mother, Sunshine (ironic, eh?), at Melbourne Zoo in south-eastern Australia. Estela was very traumatized by the whole ordeal so zookeepers made sure to keep her company with cuddly stuffed animals and some even took turns sleeping next to the tiny monkey! Jess McKelson, a primate supervisor at the zoo, said that the past few weeks have been very anxious for everyone in her department.’We’re taking turns to stay overnight with Estela to monitor her condition and provide the overnight feeds,’ she said. ‘Keeping Estela alive has been a big challenge, and she has had ups and downs over this time, with several infections that have been a real threat to her survival. As of May 2011, Estela was back to full health and is now on display with her grandmother Sonja. 

Nafanya the Seal

© Caters News Agency
 © Caters News Agency
Life as a ginger seal pup can be tough, as Nafanya can attest to. She was found sitting all alone on the beach on Tyuleniy Island, Russia, while the rest of her sleek black family played in the waves. With brilliant blue eyes and rusty-colored fur, the unusual seal really stood out from the rest of the pack. The red hue comes from an accumulation of iron in the seal’s fur. 
Several months later, however, Nafanya is doing more than alright, as she is now the star attraction at Akvatoria dolphinarium. Yulia Frolova, head of the Akvatoria dolphinarium – Nafanya’s new home, said: ‘She now has a special enclosure with a pool, and two weeks after her arrival, people are already coming to see her.Her keepers say she loves being the centre of attention, and Ms Frolova added: ‘She has a playful nature. She loves to play with her toy – a small blue ball. ‘But what she likes the most its to play with a fish at feeding time. She will follow it, catch it, put it in her mouth, release it and finally eat it. ‘Nafanya is such a lovely animal and is certainly not afraid of people.’ 

Hamish the Lesser Bamboo Lemur

© Banham Zoo
© Banham Zoo

It’s hard to believe any animal mother could reject something so cute! Just look at this big brown eyes! Sadly, this was in fact the case for Hamish. However, zookeepers readily came to his aid and provided 24-hour care for the little lemur. Periodic updates from the UK’s Banham Zoo let us know that even though Hamish had a rough start in life, he’s now flourishing. Yay for happy endings!