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Hasty babies

Bebés apresurados

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Being born in the Arctic can be a great risk considering the large number of hungry predators ready to feed on a helpless newborn. That’s why the female gray seal or Greenland seal can delay the implantation of the embryo so that the pups are born in March, synchronizing their birth with the breaking of the ice, which makes it difficult for polar bears to access the pups. After hibernating, polar bears go out hunting at the beginning of the year.

As a newborn, the seal pup has a long and silky white coat, but it hasn’t yet developed its layer of blubber, making it unable to go into the water and vulnerable to attacks. That’s why its infancy needs to be as short as possible. The baby has already lost its milk teeth before being born, inside the mother’s womb. During the first fifteen days of life, its mother will nurse it with a very dense and nutritious milk, containing up to fifty percent fat and five times denser than cow’s milk. With such a rich diet, the baby seal grows rapidly and triples its weight in two weeks. At birth, it weighs 10 kilograms, and it gains over one kilogram per day. At 18 days of age, it starts losing its white fur, which is replaced by the adult coat that allows it to go into the water and become independent just a few days later.

For years, Greenland seal pups were killed by humans for their fur in the fur industry. To do this, the pup was struck to stun it, and then its skin was removed while it was still alive, as if it died before the skin was removed, it would stick to the body and tear when attempting to remove it. Once the process was complete, the seal pup would die from bleeding. International protests by millions of environmentalists worldwide have reduced the slaughter to one percent of the seals killed twenty years ago. Greenpeace conducted campaigns in the Arctic where seal pups were painted to ruin their white fur and prevent it from being used in the fur industry. When the fur changed, the paint would come off, and the pups could reach the sea without issues.

“You cannot defend what you do not love, and you cannot love what you do not know.”