Lazarus is a rather famous name. For those who could use a refresher, he was one of three siblings mentioned in the Bible. When Lazarus became ill, his two sisters sent a message to Jesus seeking healing for him. Upon receiving the message, Jesus didn’t set out as soon as possible but instead stayed where he was for a couple of days, with the result that he didn’t arrive until four days after Lazarus had already been put in his tomb. However, that was no problem because Jesus had the mourners remove the stone blocking the entrance to his tomb before commanding him to step forth while still wrapped in his grave-cloths. Due to this, Lazarus became one of the most popular subjects in Christian religious art in which he can be recognized by the wrappings that bind him in symbolic representation of his resurrection.
Nowadays, the name Lazarus is often used for someone who is perceived to have been returned to life. As such, it is an excellent choice for a newborn chihuahua who received a second chance thanks to a mother cat named Jada. In short, what happened was that Lazarus’s mother had to undergo a C-section to get him out, with the result that her mothering instincts never kicked in because she wasn’t awake during the procedure. This meant that the newborn chihuahua had no source of milk, which is why the veterinarian Sharon Eisen had to scramble to find some other way to feed him. Eventually, she introduced Lazarus to Jada, who had just given birth to a litter of kittens but lost one of them. Thankfully, the mother cat chose to adopt the newborn chihuahua, with the result that he now seems to be accepted by the family of cats as one of their own. It remains to be seen what will come of that relationship in the times to come, but it should be mentioned that Eisen has made the choice to keep Lazarus for her own.
Why Do Animals Adopt Animals of Other Species?
Animals adopting animals of other species is a more common occurrence than what a lot of people would expect. Moreover, it is interesting to note that while most known examples happen between domesticated animals, there are known examples of it happening between wild animals as well. In fact, chances are good that interested individuals have come upon more than one of these cases because they make for great feel-good stories.
The exact reason why animals adopt animals of other species isn’t clear. After all, while we can communicate with other species to some extent, we can’t hope for the same clarity that we would expect from human to human communications. As a result, we don’t have much insight into what the relevant animals are thinking when they make such choices, which is why we have to make do with educated guesses about what is going on.
Essentially, the answer seems to be altruism. There are plenty of species that couldn’t care less about the fate of their offspring. Instead, they tend to be reliant on producing an overwhelming number of offspring to make sure that some of their number will survive the predators as well as the other threats to their continuing existence. In contrast, there are other species with much stronger parenting instincts, meaning that they are inclined by their very nature to offer help to other animals in need. One line of speculation is that the adoption of animals of other species is motivated by these parenting instincts, which can be a bit broader than what their name indicates. This is supported because how in a lot of these stories, it is a nursing mother who takes in an orphan, which is relevant because nursing mothers tend to have higher levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin.
Besides that, there is another line of thought that adopting animals of other species is connected to a kind of cost-benefit analysis. Essentially, numbers are important because bigger numbers make for greater numbers as well as greater food collection. As a result, it is possible that adoptions are meant to make the social group that much more capable, meaning that the relationship can be expected to last so long as the adopted animal can pull their weight. Having said that, contributions don’t necessarily have to be material in nature. Perhaps unsurprisingly, social animals benefit from social companionship, meaning that on its own could be enough, particularly if the adopted animal isn’t either a potential threat or a potential competitor for some kind of scarce resource.
How Did Altruism Evolve?
Some people might be curious about how altruism came to be in the animal kingdom. After all, there is a popular belief that nature is in a state of war of all against all, meaning that there doesn’t seem to be much room for altruism and related sentiments in it. However, there have been studies into the matter that suggest that altruism is a perfectly natural outcome of evolutionary pressures.
In short, altruism makes a population much more capable of surviving than otherwise possible because the individuals that make up the population are pooling their capabilities to help one another. Certainly, there is incentive for individuals in the population to “cheat” in the sense of taking advantage of other individuals’ altruism. However, there is a natural corrector in that if the number of selfish individuals in a population gets too high, that population becomes less capable of thriving than its more altruistic counterparts because combined effect of that selfishness becomes apparent on that grander scale. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that even if a particular individual fails to pass on their genes because of their altruism, they will increase the chances of their kin passing on their genes, thus ensuring that altruism will continue to exist in their population. Of course, there is still much that remains to be understood about the whole phenomenon, meaning that further studies need to be carried out for us to gain a better understanding of what happened as well as how it happened.