Whale-watchers are flocking to Sydney’s headlands as another bumper whale migration passes by Australia’s eastern shores. Up to 50,000 humpback whales are currently travelling to their winter feeding grounds, with young whales spotted splashing, jumping, and playing along the way.
As Sydneysiders enjoy seaside ice creams and watch for tail fins, PETA’s latest ad is reminding the public that mother cows love their calves just as much as mother whales (also called cows) love theirs.
Humpback calves will spend a year nursing on their mother’s milk. The social structure of humpback whales revolves around the bond between mother and calf, who travel together during the calf’s first migration. As they grow up, humpbacks are typically solitary and rarely congregate, but whales within the same family sing long complex songs when together and as a way to communicate across considerable distances when apart. Each whale population has a unique tune that changes year after year, but how and why these songs come about remains a mystery to researchers.
Cows kept on Australian dairy farms also have strong bonds with their calves, who are typically torn away from them within a day of birth, causing extreme distress to both mother and baby. Instead of singing beautiful songs, cows can be heard frantically crying out in grief for days after their calves have been taken away. In their case, there should be no mystery as to what they are expressing or why.
Of the estimated 800,000 calves born on Australian dairy farms each year, most female babies are forced into the same traumatic cycle of pregnancy and milk production as their mothers, while around 300,000 of the males known as “bobby calves” are slaughtered within a few days of birth as unwanted “by-products” of the dairy industry.
Male calves are not bred to gain weight as are animals raised for meat, so they’re of little value to the meat industry. Common (and legal) killing methods include shooting them or hitting them on the head with a hammer. For those sent to the abattoir, current legislation allows journeys of up to 30 hours – with no food or water. Imagine taking a newborn baby from his or her mother, tossing the infant into the backseat of a car, and driving the child continuously without food or a break for 30 hours.
Mother cows and mother humpback whales both share a profound love for and devotion to their calves, but the cruel dairy industry doesn’t let cows experience that bond. It is time we extended our compassion to all species and see cows as the unique, sensitive individuals they are and not as milk machines. Help end this injustice by encouraging your friends and family to switch to dairy-free ice cream and drinks, such as those made from soy, rice, oat, or nut milk. Order PETA’s free vegan starter kit for more information and dairy-free recipes.