Amazing animal moms at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Sharing just a few of the wonderful animal moms to call the Sanctuary their home-between-homes
By Sarah Thornton

It’s time for Mother’s Day, time for breakfast in bed and telling moms of all kinds how much they mean to us. Here at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, we get all shapes and sizes of moms ― from furry to feathery, big to small, biological and adopted (and hopefully all adopted, in the end). And all of them are amazing moms to just as unique and amazing families.

Today as we celebrate all moms, we wanted to share with you some of the wonderful moms here.

River and her kittens in their foster home

River the calico cat lying on her side and nursing her kittens

River came to Best Friends from a nearby town in Utah and immediately went into foster care with her three newborn kittens: Anais, Jason and Momoa. At first, she was very nervous about people and defensive of her kittens. No one was allowed near the small family. But as she started to feel more comfortable with the gentle patience and care of her foster family, she relaxed and even let the little kittens be handled. With two momma’s boys and an adventurous girl, she had her paws full, so it was probably nice to have some help from the humans once in a while.

Three mama doves and a decoy egg

A collage of three photos of Debbie, Nevaeh, Monica the doves

This trio of bonded doves takes turns nesting and caring for decoy eggs. The decoys are provided because, otherwise, they would continue to lay their own eggs, which could cause calcium deficiencies. But these lovely ladies don’t mind. They’ll fluff up their feathers and defend their little nest just as much as if it was a real egg. (In fact, Nevaeh is doing just that in her picture.) Monica, Nevaeh, Debbie and their decoy egg may be a little bit of an unconventional family, but they’re all very happy with the arrangement.

Cinnamon the horse is the sweetest spice

Collage of three photos of Sage, Cinnamon, Chili the horses

Cinnamon came to Best Friends with two colts at her side, all of them fluffy and in the middle of shedding. Gentle Sage was still nursing. Chili, at one year old, was as spicy as his name suggests, as well as independent and rambunctious. Cinnamon, quiet and cautious of the new people, focused her attention on taking care of her foals while keeping an eye on staff. It’s not easy taking care of two boys, especially when they’re as big as horses, so when Sage was weaned, he and Chili moved into a foster home. Cinnamon, who’s enjoying some much-deserved quiet time, is slowly warming up to people and showing her sweet side as she gets closer every day.

Puppies at the kitten nursery

When an animal mom isn’t available, it’s time for caregivers to step in and fill the role. When a litter of nine puppies (so young they still needed round-the-clock

care) came in without a mom, they went to the kitten nursery. There, kitten caregivers cleaned and bottle-fed them, and made sure they got everything growing pups need. It was a lot of work with so many squirming pups, but they took their jobs as stand-in moms very seriously — well, as seriously as you can when there’s a bunch of puppies rolling around.

Boss mom Karen

Karen, Colin, Corwin the pigs lying next to each other on some stray in a pen

Karen and her two piglets, Colin and Corwin, were found wandering by the side of the road and brought into Best Friends by a good Samaritan. Friendly and playful, the golden-haired pigs love sniffling and lazing around together in the sun. Though her piglets are grown up and as big as she is, Karen makes sure they know who raised them and that they still need to be respectful. And then she snuggles up with them for a good nap.

Mama Nomad, the prettiest mom

Nomad the pigeon lying in a roost

“Nomad is probably the prettiest pigeon in the Wild Friends pigeon flock,” says Brianna Vlach, one of Nomad’s caregivers, “She spent several months choosing her mate, and finally decided on Fred.” The couple (like the dove trio above) was given a decoy egg that they happily care for by taking turns keeping it warm. Nomad has even earned the nickname Mama for how much she dotes on her precious egg. She keeps their nesting box comfy and tidy, and their egg safe and snug.

Idina, Imogen and Hattie split the mothering

A collage of two pictures of Indina and Imogen and Hattie the cats with kittens

Three moms named Idina, Imogen and Hattie came in with 15 kittens. That’s a lot of hungry mouths to feed, but the moms shared the work. It didn’t matter which kittens really belonged to who. They crawled over all three of them and nursed from whoever they landed on. Having two other moms to rely on also allowed each of them to have a few more breaks than if they were on their own. And breaks are very much needed when you’ve got such a big family.

No matter what species, or how many there are, the moms here at Best Friends are something special. Just like our own moms, they’re taking care of their babies and making sure everyone grows up healthy and happy. And when those babies are grown and everyone goes on to their own new families, they can enjoy being spoiled all on their own — maybe even get a little breakfast in bed.

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Photos by Olivia Weissblum, Troy Snow, Jen Reid, Molly Wald and Tina Sylvester