Mother's Day in the wild: Meet the most dedicated mothers in the animal kingdom 

Just because you haven't got opposable thumbs, doesn't mean you don't love your sprogs

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The Independent Online

From gestation periods of 22 months, to parents who literally chew off their own arms to feed their young, there's plenty of dedicated mothering going on among the beasts.

So while Mother's Day doesn't strictly-speaking extend into the animal kingdom in any real sense, today it's worth sparing a thought for the challenges all species face when bringing up their young.

Polar bears, for instance, may seem to have it easy - they have one of the quickest childbirths of any mammal, with the mum often sleeping right through it. Yet at the same time, they get little help from the father, who skips town immediately after mating.

Leaf monkeys and elephants face threats to their young from deadly predators, meanwhile, but get through with the help of a rich extended support system of other females or "aunts".

And not to be limited just to the realms of the cute and cuddly, octopus mothers deserve no small amount of recognition for the incredible lengths they go to in protecting their thousands of babies.

Although we've left off some of the more, um, shall we say exotic examples of dedicated mothering off the list (the Surinam toad, for example, spawns its kids directly out of pockets in the mother's back) we think we've got a pretty good selection of the great and frankly outstanding.

Check out our selection below: