For thousands of years, societies have been raised animals in captivity, tearing mothers away from their young and siphoning off their breast-milk for human consumption and for profit. In the past hundred years, the scale of this exploitation has exploded exponentially; by every measure, homo sapiens do our animal brethren and sistren far more harm than good.
And yet, despite our embarrassing record as a species, a few humans continue to show four-legged familiars more love than most of us manage to muster for even our fellow man. Specifically, some women find it in their hearts to not only adopt orphaned mammals, but to even feed them their own breast-milk – directly from the breast.
A news report from India acquaints us with a Rajasthani woman who breast-feeds a calf whose mother died soon after giving birth. Also in India, a Punjabi woman nurses a young gazelle after it first refused to drink the cow’s milk it was offered.
A documentary about the Awa-Guaja people of Brazil notes that their women are wont to breast-feed orphaned monkeys that they find in the rainforest. And one especially brave Burmese woman played wet use to not one but two baby tigers after their birth mother drove them off.
One American woman has offered up her mother’s milk to the family dog, but it wasn’t because the dog was taken from its own mother; rather, the women’s children were unable to drink from her breast, and allowing the dog to suckle fills an emotional need for her, she says.
In 1996, singer-songwriter Tori Amos posed with a piglet sucking on her breast for a photo shoot to promote her third studio album Boys for Pele. In 2010, Polish model Agatha Dembiecka posed for a calendar with a puppy at her breast, to raise funds for an Irish animal rescue project.