Canada Post has issued a new stamp set featuring two animals that are model parents. The Animal Mothers and Babies stamps commend the sea otter and the red-necked grebe – both native to Canada – for their incredible dedication to their young.
Issued ahead of Mother’s Day and during the week of Earth Day, the set celebrates motherly love while also encouraging Canadians to take action to protect our incredible wildlife.
“We gave the images a storybook quality and a sense of motion to make people curious about the worlds in which these creatures live – and remind them of how important it is to protect them,” said Temagami Anishinaabe artist Caroline Brown, who created the images using a combination of traditional embroidery and beadwork.
Brown collaborated with the stamp designer, Meredith MacKinlay of Halifax-based Egg Design, who opted for the use of needlework as a way to bring the animals to life and express their maternal bonds.
“Fabric-based crafts have that feeling of homeyness and familial love,” explains MacKinlay. “Embroidery is so textural, it seemed an ideal way to show the fur of the sea otter and feathers of the red-necked grebe.”
Showing the bond of caregiving was important, as both species are known for their amazing devotion to their young, allowing their babies to float on them during the first stage of their lives.
Sea otters (Enhydra lutris)
Mature female sea otters give birth to a single pup every year for life. Mothers – who are the sole caregivers – float on their backs to feed, groom and cradle their babies for the first six months. During this time, the pups learn to forage and swim.
The sea otter was once hunted for its luxurious fur and was eventually extirpated from British Columbia, but the species has made a gradual comeback since it was reintroduced. It continues to face many threats, including oil spills and fishing gear entanglement, and is currently listed as being of special concern in Canada.
Red-necked grebes (Podiceps grisegena)
Monogamous pairs of red-necked grebes share their parenting duties. The water birds take turns incubating their eggs and carrying their chicks, which climb onto their parents’ backs immediately after hatching.
The parents continue to transport their chicks on their backs until their offspring are between 10 and 17 days old. At that point, they’re able to swim – though they’re not completely independent until seven to nine weeks when they begin to fly.
Found across most of Canada, the red-necked grebes winter off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Like sea otters, they face threats such as oil spills, as well as loss of their freshwater nesting habitat from other human disturbances.
The Animal Mothers and Babies stamp set is the latest issue to celebrate Canadian wildlife and help raise awareness of the impact of human activity on animal populations. Recent stamps have shone a light on endangered whales, bears and snow mammals.
New Animal Mothers and Babies stamp set celebrates parenting in the wildAvailable now