A Mother Lemur’s Ultimate Dilemma: Bringing Up Baby

Ultimate Dilemma, narrated by David Attenborough
In Madagascar, ringed-tailed lemurs have to stay together to survive, particularly in a drought. One of the babies is too weak to hold on. Lemurs can’t easily carry their young, so the mother faces an appalling dilemma. If she’s separated from the others for too long, they could attack her as an outsider. She has to choose between her baby and herself. The mother moves to follow the troop, but she returns five times. Her mind must be struggling back and forth. Many scientists believe she feels emotion, and is thinking about her feelings. It’s called ‘affective consciousness’. It’s now thought likely all mammals are aware of their instinctive feelings. It would be hard to be a good mother without it. As the baby gets weaker she leaves for the last time. We can’t know for sure what she was thinking or feeling, but she behaved as though she’d come to a decision that she found very difficult.

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