Bringing Up Baby

At the end of each year, The Independent newspaper launches an appeal to support various charities.  This year it has drawn attention to Action Aid and the case of Jennipher Alupot, a Ugandan mother forced to breastfeed the puppies of her husband’s hunting dogs. Her husband had paid a “bride price” of two cows to his father-in-law and reasoned that as the cows were no longer around to provide milk then his new purchase would have to provide for the pups.

This is a story of abuse that seems to be endemic in cultures where wives are traded as commodities but what really made this report “almost too horrific to be believed?” Was it the abuse of wives? Clearly not, as domestic abuse is a universal problem that rarely makes a headline. Was it the concept of bride price? Maybe, but as one commentator pointed out, the practice is also widespread. I think the real horror (and this was evident in the comments) was the idea that a human might be forced to suckle an animal and that is something that most of us find disgusting.

breastfeeding calves animals

What's so wrong with this?

Last year I posted a blog about GMTV presenter Kate Garraway’s campaign to raise public awareness about surrogate breastfeeding by posing for a picture of her apparently breastfeeding a calf. Her point was,  why is giving human milk to a calf more shocking than giving cow’s milk to a baby? Of course, it caused outrage and I think this was because of the same inherent essentialism that seems to be violated by these acts. Most of us simply don’t want to cross the animal-human boundary when it comes to acts of intimacy.

We are happy to drink milk but the notion of drinking it directly from the source is something that would turn a few stomachs as this next picture shows. It just seems too intimate.

What is so wrong with this image?

breastfeeding monkey

Amazonian woman breastfeeding monkey

But not all think like this. I bought a hammock some years back that came with assembly instructions and was surprised to see an image on an Amazonian woman reclining in a similar hammock breastfeeding a goat.  I have no idea what the importers of the hammock where trying to promote but when I looked into the practice it turns out that some tribes are not adverse to breastfeeding animals. So clearly culture shapes what we find acceptable here but still it does seem very odd. I do have another image of a New Zealand woman breastfeeding her puppy but I think my point has been made.

This image of the woman with the monkey was taken by Jacek Palkiewicz from the 2007 Huaorani Expedition and can be found here

UPDATE: As this is my most popular post, I thought I would update it with more photographs that seem to titillate.

What a lovely puppy


Filed under Essentialism, In the News, Weird Story of the Week

98 responses to “Bringing Up Baby

  1. Maria

    I guess it’s an acceptable practice in other cultures because their animals are important and necessary to survive. I for one don’t see anything wrong in giving human milk to animals. It’s just that I would use a breast pump instead of breastfeeding directly for fear of being injured if anything. It’s the same for us, I still have to see a baby sucking milk directly from a cow’s udders…

    • Jarda

      Somewhere on my harddisk there’s lying a very old black and white photo of a kid sucking milk directly from a goat. About 3 – 4 years of age, white, apparently of very poor social origin.

  2. brucehood

    Maria, you sound very pragmatic and I guess this is exactly the approach in cultures where pragmatics count. This in itself raises more questions for me to ponder. Are our western sensitivities purely cultural?

  3. Quite an interesting post. My sister breast fed a lost puppy until she could no longer bear the pain from its teeth. I know when she used to eat meat, she would have never done anything like that but now that she’s a serious vegan, she is so much more sensitive to everyone and everything around her.

  4. brucehood

    Breastfeeding a lost puppy????
    I think you must be jogging my stroller

  5. I don’t think the act of breastfeeding the dogs was what made her experience horrible. I think it was being tied to her bed by her hands and feet and forced to breastfeed the dogs without her consent.

    That added another level.

  6. Andrew Atkinson

    I was breastfed by a dog for a good while and no one thought to object – though my father says she didn’t always look that way…

  7. Breastfeeding triggers oxytocin release, so there are sexual and pair-bonding connotations. This still has has hallmarks of essentialism, but takes it to another level (why shouldn’t you have a sexual relationship with an animal?).

    • Carol

      Hmmm, so you think when mother breastfeeds her child there is a sexual bond about it? There is a bond but it is nothing sexual at all.

      • Devid

        This is when “sexual” becomes a semantic game. We could ask what counts as sex. I think when it boils down, sexuality is best defined as a physical link between two flesh bodies. So I would say breatstfeeding is a form of sexuality. Why not? Of course that’s a watered down simplified definition, so as not to leave too long a comment.

  8. This in itself raises more questions for me to ponder. Are our western sensitivities purely cultural?

    It seems to me that many essentialists beliefs require a cultural trigger or cultural framing to make them take hold. Is the Western revulsion to breastfeeding of animals purely cultural? Probably not; otherwise, it would seem surprising that it would provoke such visceral outrage and disgust despite there being, like Haidt’s flag story and dead chicken story, no rational reason why it’s so bad. (On a side note, I reject Haidt’s incest story as begging the question, but that’s neither here nor there)

  9. Arno

    Due to differences in culture being mentioned here, I cannot help but wonder… What would you consider to be more disgusting? Nurse a dog, or eat one?

  10. What would you consider to be more disgusting? Nurse a dog, or eat one?

    I find neither particularly disgusting, but eating a dog would make me sad. But that’s just simple sentimentality speaking 🙂

    • NLK3

      Only because we have them as pets. Same with cats and horses. Even goldfish. We are taught that these particular animals, mostly in developed nations, are our companions. Why is a pig considered more edible, but illegal in the States to eat a dog? What about a cow vs. horse? A rat vs. a guinea pig (yes, rodents)? If we can drink cow and goat milk, why not allow baby animals, probably mammals specifically, drink human milk when they need it, unless there is harm in it like feeding plants to lions?

  11. this has really made me stop and think. I couldn’t bring myself to suckle an animal directly but like Maria said, if milk was expressed via a pump I’d be happy to feed it to them in a bottle.

  12. zezeTHEONE

    im sorry, but god send us here and did a diffrence between human and animal natures

    we musnt cross the line.(and im always wonder, why abnormalities encouraged by the part of the people)they can feed these animals with baby supplies, why breastfeeding?
    if this is normal, having sex with them also normal.

    so stop accept abnormal things.
    best wishes.

    • NLK3

      Really? Do you drink cow milk? And breastfeeding isn’t sex. It can be done as a sexual action, just like rubbing a person’s leg, which is a little different from rubbing your pet dog or cat. Is that sexual too? Besides, many mammals have shown levels of care to other animals (not sure about other animal types), and we consider them more natural than us. It’s known that some predators would take care of the babies of their prey if they learn about them, even breast feeding. Unless we are told by God directly, no offense to anybody’s religion, we don’t know what is abnormal, which in my opinion, is just something that is not commonplace among society. Hunting with a spear nowadays may be considered abnormal.

  13. No offence.

    But if like that, the woman feeding the monkey, she’ll be showing people her breast.

    • Gerard Simons

      Stop sleeping!

      That woman is in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and there are no stores to even buy clothes! Don’t look if it offends you.

  14. anonymous

    why would you breast feed an animal? you could get infected or something!

  15. JustAnArtist

    Tribal women breast feeding animals is perfectly logical; the animal must be sustained and there is no access to breast pumps or other such tools.

    Practices that may shock our western sensitivities are not limited to this particular instance. There are so many tribal traditions that would be surprising and disgusting to most inhabitants of our hemisphere.

    The bottom line is, if the participants consent to what ever practice or tradition is taking place then there are no moral boundaries being crossed.

    • NLK3

      It’s the simple idea of being used to something. We aren’t people that could simply go out and hunt animals with a spear and it’s illegal to walk around with breasts exposed. We consider that weird. But at one point in history, that’s what some of our species did. My point is that just because we are use to it doesn’t mean it’s the only right way. I learned that some women breastfeed their kids until they are teenagers, including Eskimos until 16. In our society, that’s the age we think more about sexual interactions. We only evolved from being tribal. Therefore, what we did then isn’t impossible for us to return to, if we choose to.

  16. John Herlo

    There is an image here

    What is the difference? Besides the arrogance of considering ourselves “masters of the world”.
    Truth being said, I could never see someone that is not poor being able to put an “=” sign between to forms of life.

  17. Anonymous

    that’s kind of messed up but man i wish i was that deer

  18. mehran

    it s good to help animals but its extremly Important to help human.
    becaus there are a lot of kids and babys that needed to breastfeeding and help.
    if you didnot found a baby to breastfeeding you can do IT.

  19. mehran

    Human Rights is important of Animal Rights.
    whats your idea?

  20. asdf

    I don’t see anything wrong with it, but like someone said I think they should use a pump for safety. But can animals even drink human milk? Maybe some of the animals are incompatible with our kind of milk… I don’t know.

  21. -Nine

    I wouldnt personally eat a dog but dont you think if we kept Cows or Pigs as pets we wouldnt eat those and hate a country for doing so?

    Slightly off the point but referes back to a previous post…

    I wouldn’t breastfeed an animal, but I respect others for doing so. It’s a minor self sacrifice if you’re doing something to benefit an animal, when you yourself -don’t- enjoy the process?

    And for people in poorer countries who do it to keep themselves alive? Let me ask you: Breastfeed a goat or simply die of starvation.

  22. Joe

    I can’t believe the number of ridiculous people commenting here willing to breastfeed an animal for the sole reason that if its ok to drink an animals milks it should be fine to let them suckle on humans?! And the reasoning for it is because a tribe in the jungle accepts it why should we do the same?! Some tribe practice pedophilia, would that be ok too if we got someone like Kate Garraway to pose with nude 9 year old. Grow up, have a spine and some principals for pete sake, society!

    • NLK3

      Principles vary from culture to culture. You’re technically saying only your culture is right. Pedophilia is known to cause harm. Being nude isn’t harmful unless done in a sexual way. Nudists aren’t offended by nudity, or get sexual responses, unlike those of us who are exposed to in in a sexual way. We are raised to see nudity as bad and only exposed to it as okay when it’s based on sex. What if we aren’t raised that way and saw breasts as just another part like a face or foot, though some think feet are sexier than any other “explicit” part. These are my principles. But because I live in a society similar to yours where certain things are law, I cannot demonstrate my beliefs the way I want because the laws contradict them.

  23. breast deeding a monkey is crazy in my oppinion and what is wrong w/ thta woman like seriously put some clothes on

  24. Again, we have what a woman feels the need to or wishes to do. If the pup’s teeth pose a problem with resulting infection, forget suckling it and express breastmilk instead. Its not crude or bestial or even sicko to breastfeed a puppy. The puppy needs milk and if that woman is willing to suckle it, without any harm to both parties, whats the crime? Just because its an animal, the act has no reason to be condemned.

    • Gerard Simons

      Very true, Huck!
      Its not a crime to breastfeed a baby animal as long as the woman involved consents to it. Hopefully, the dangers of disease transmitted are near zero.

  25. mickey

    hi to all
    all these discussions are not necessary
    all these things are rubbish
    we need not to even think about

  26. This is silly.. Breastfeeding an animal isn’t bad. We’re all animals and you’re not complaining when a tiger breastfeed a puppy. Then you’re all “awwww”.
    If it’s needed, why not? They don’t give a damn if you’re a human, they just need it to survive.

    As for those commentors saying that woman needs to put some clothes on, oh, well, respect their culuture and their way of living. In many cultures women nor men wear nothing, except for some cloth to cover what they have down there.
    They don’t see breasts as sexual and don’t walk around being hard when their women are half naked.
    Neither will the baby animal if you’ll breastfeed it.

  27. breanna

    wtf is wrong wit this person god thts nastyyyyyyy

  28. its wrong….
    the better that woman take its and go to looking for milk….its like the human have not price…

  29. JRC

    I think there is a serious problem with anyone who puts an animal up to her breast and lets it suck on it!!!! YES animals have a need to servive.. but seriously?? No wonder why there are sooo many std’s and diseases out there!!!! Someone breastfeading their puppy… can’t you take it to a vet or get a bottle!! I love my dog and I don’t even eat meat.. but I am not about to let my dog suck on my tit!! yuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. ITIS HORBULL!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. brendan

    if some stupid bitch wants to breast feed an animal let her, its her problem if she gets some kind of disease

  32. Gurv

    To those who say god made a difference between humans and animals…and this is not right.

    …. then why do we drink cows breats milk?

    have a nice day.

    • Gerard Simons

      Wake up Gurv,

      Which is better? Kill baby orphan piglets and lambs or have a kind woman breastfeed them to live when breastfeeding becomes the only way to save their lives?

  33. Daniel

    I have never before read such a tirade of uneducated red-neck crap!
    1. She wears no clothes because she lives in the Amazon – ie. A tropical jungle more than half the size of the US with no department stores!! This is not a choice!
    Anyway its bloody hot there, you don’t really need clothes.
    2. Often in remote communities (even Western ones) a lactating mother, otherwise known as a wet-nurse will feed several babies, allowing their parents to continue providing for the community. If a valuable animal was orphaned why would this person not provide for it too. It is not a question of morals, its just the way the world is!
    3. Learn to spell!
    Just had to get that off my chest.

  34. chase

    i gotta a question am i seeing a lady gettn her tit suked by a monkey

  35. wwjd

    I’m encouraged by this debate.
    It does look weird to me to see a baby animal suckling on a human, and I’m not really sure if it’s morally right or not. I wonder if I lived in poverty in a country where I was dependent on my animals for survival I might resort to it to keep it alive if there was really no other option. I think it’s good to ask the question if things are morally right or wrong. It’s not just dependent on culture, there has to be a higher standard which we all must subject ourselves. If one tribe somewhere said it was fine to murder would it simply become fine? If one group of people somewhere said child abuse was ok would it then become ok? We can’t just say ‘ if all parties are consenting where’s the harm’ because all our actions as humans affect the communities and societies that we live in and we have to be responsible for that. If we all said it was right to have affairs it might be fine for the 2 consenting adults, but what about their wives/husbands, or their children. There are some things that are wrong, and some things that are right, regardless of our culture. Some things are obvious, and some not so. I, for one, do not feel able to be judge and jury of these things. Only God is capable of making these judgements, and I am not too proud to humble myself before Him (who incredibly made us all) and ask Him what He thinks about it.

  36. من محمد مهدی مظفری 16ساله از ایران هستم سایت خوبی داشتید
    من از دیدن سایت شما لذت بردم
    my tell:09193400221

  37. kong

    why don they just breastfeed me, i am physically weak and i do not mind to drink.

  38. ugh!

    There are so many important issues in the world to contemplate, however this is not one, as it’s oh so easy. Simple rules (that all you religious freaks forget): each to their own, have tolerance to others’ lifestyle if it is not infringing on your quality of life, and get an education. Some cultures have a greater connection to their animals. Big deal. Even Jesus slept with sheep to keep warm, as did most average families well into the 1500s. “If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than seventy five percent of the people in the world.” Some people live differently, so bring your noses down and have some respect. If you think breast feeding is gross, then you clearly are perverted and perhaps we should be judging you.

  39. Neutral

    Well, I guess it’s time 2 make a conclusion. It’s OK for women to breastfeed animal as long as:
    1. it’s emergency (the animal is dying & facing fatal extinction problem) For example, if there is only 2 baby deers left on earth & they need milk to stay alive, then a woman allowed to breastfeed them.
    2. there is no breast pump nearby

    • amanita muscaria

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing how – wherever I go read about this topic – no one mentions the pump – or other kind of milk! Because human milk is for humans, goat’s for goats, cat’s for cats, etc. It’s a very rare case when some milk (for example goats, which is considered healthier than cow’s, for us humans) is healthy and recommendable to drink for another species.
      I can’t believe how many people here (and other places with similar debate) say ‘oh, but we drink cow’s milk’ etc. Yes, but we don’t lie under it and suck on its nipple! (bahhh..)
      Breastfeeding cats, puppies, pigs? Ah, go and kill yourself

  40. Wat the hell! is wrong wit teh nurse ting!?
    a monkey being nursed by a woman naked.
    now thats what the hell!

  41. N

    Don’t we drink milk from cows?

  42. JRC’s comment made me laugh out loud about her dog. Anyway, yes it is very very weird to look at those pictures.

    But my jury is out. Just because it feels strange to look at does not mean it is wrong. Someone pointed out that we are all animals anyway. I mean years ago most middle and upperclass women used wet nurses for breat feeding their own children.

    In the Amazon it is survival that counts, not socially acceptable wet nursing practices.

    • amanita muscaria

      amazonian people are not dying from hunger, it’s not a desert – it’s a rich-soiled area, with plenty of food (fruit, vegetables, fish, meat they catch around 🙂

  43. this look very wrong y would a naked girl be nursing a money

  44. I’m surprised that no-one has mentioned the story of Romulus and Remus, in the context of human babies being suckled by animals (see, for example, if you’re not familiar with this legend).
    I wonder if that was considered to have given Rome’s founders positive essential qualities of wolves?

  45. all I gotta say is that’s SICK!!!!!!!

    • amanita muscaria

      at least someone! it’s unbelievable how many ‘oh how cute’ and ‘fascinating’ comments on this disgusting subject

  46. Anonymous


  47. Anonymous

    رضا زاهدی 09138637568 I love you

  48. Anonymous

    reza zahedi 09138637568

  49. shervin

    saiteton ali bod kheili khosham omad az saiteton
    shervin hastam from iran

  50. maria K


  51. Anonymous

    انا شايف الن المساعدة كويسه وبالذات فى الحيونات المنقرضة

  52. Vineeta

    Just for the record, am from Eastern India where girls are encouraged to breastfeed domesticated animals like pigs, goats even wild abandoned babies!

    As a teen my mom wanted me to suckle a pig, instead I fancied an abandoned monkey baby. I wasn’t lactating then, but the whole experience was that of tender loving care. The only fear I carried was that if the baby decided to bite me? Of course we fed the baby with diluted goat’s milk, but to encourage it to suckle I had to put it to my breast. I and my two sisters shared the baby monkey between us. I still remember the baby clinging to my skin. Today am a mother to four daughters and they are following the footsteps of our ancestors where humans and animals live in harmony.

    Just to put a record straight – if a lady decides to share her breast milk with an animal baby – she takes care to share the same breast every time and keep the other for her own baby! There are NO cases of husbands or fathers forcing their wives/daughters to suckle animals!

    • brucehood

      Wow… that is an impressive personal story, Vineeta. Thank you for sharing your experiences and opinion which I value. Who are we to pass judgement on others?
      It is interesting that Indian culture has many other taboos that we consider absurd in the West. Such is the diversity of human beliefs.

    • Gerard Simons

      Fantastic, Vineeta. Its a great act on your part.

  53. Andrew Atkinson

    Nothing really horrid about women breastfeeding animals compared to animals being killed. As long as both woman and animal do not incur disease and discomfort, suckling even a clean piglet to give it nourishment is a million times more beneficial than letting it die. A piglet sucking on a woman’s breasts is an extension of motherhood to it and is not disgusting apart from what is in one’s mind towards suckling animals.

  54. Gerard Simons

    I think Andrew has a point. Millions of pigs and piglets are slaughtered each year for earning money and whetting our appetites. Women who choose to breastfeed baby pigs for whatever reason, are doing it to provide nourishment, even if that pig finally ends up in the abattoir. In tribal societies, breastfeeding piglets is not frowned upon. I’d like an image or two of that Asian woman suckling a piglet. if possible. Its a remarkable act of motherhood.

    • brucehood

      I’ll see what I can find… But if any others have such images please pass them on… they do wonders for my website traffic!

      • Gerard Simons

        Thanks Dr. Bruce M. Hood,
        All the hoo haa from those who find breastfeeding infant animals despiccable have conditioned their minds to it. Many years ago, I knew this skinny teenage boy who lavished his concern on a sick puppy by allowing it to use his nipples as pacifiers. He was lanky but had nipples that were erect enough to satisfy the tiny pup’s sucking instincts together with hand fed milk formula. He did the right thing.

  55. Gerard Simons

    Congratulations & thanks, Vineeta, for sharing this with us all. If people think it bestial, grose or filthy, its all in their minds. Well within safety for the woman & animal baby, its very big caring for the animal kingdom, like the Cambodian or Burmese woman suckling a little piglet. A boy cannot do this!!

  56. Having been personally stepped on by a mere calf, I can tell you what is wrong with that photo – that woman could be squashed!

  57. Ari

    i think it’s depend on your culture. we shouldn’t tell it is 100% wrong. for example for someone in some situation maybe it can work and make a good result. as a fact in each situation we should help them to survive. last week i found new born kitten which he missed his mother to fread him, and i couldn’t help him. needless to say , maybe one of these beautiful woman could fread him if she was in my location.

  58. Anonymous

    ويب صور الأخبار ترجمة أسئلة وإجابات تحديثات Gmail المزيد ▼



    وأيضًا المزيد »

  59. I am researching Breastfeeding and the new Laws enacted March 2010 by the President of the USA and of individual states. I am also learning a lot about breastfeeding, the mores/attitudes differing cultures hold about this topic, the fact that men also breastfeed, and now that humans may serve as surrogates, just as animals serve as surrogate to humans, in regards to breastfeeding. If you wish, I will consider sending you my PowerPoint Presentation once it is complete.

  60. Gerard Simons

    The bottom line is that there is nothing disgusting, despiccable or filthy if a woman opts to suckle an animal orphan or just to breastfeed it for nourishment. Social taboos, cultural views etc would be some of the reasons against animal suckling.

  61. للحليب فوائد كثيرة
    وانا احب الحليب خصوصا عندما يكون من المصنع للمستهلك مباشرة

  62. v

    iwant to touch your breast

  63. sex hunter

    why the breastfeeding lady feed the monkey, she may feed me

  64. malfras

    we must see if c is true that man can both nursing

  65. I feel the same way that you do if we drink cows milk then we if is alright breast feeding animals. What if they don’t even have a mother and could die if they don’t get the milk that they need.

  66. caring woman

    just to let you know I live in the USA. I am a mother of 5 and my youngest fust stopped breastfeeding. One of my dogs had puppys and they are 3 weeks old there were 10 but something sot 7 of the puppys we took the other 3 to the vet and he said that they are ok we bought the special puppy formula and two of the puppys do great with it we give the formula to them in a bottle one of the puppys though wants nothing to do with the bottle he was starving and looked as if he was getting week i could not just sit and watch him die many of u have said use a breast pump but this puppy will not drink from a bottle he would have died if i hadnt let him nurse maybe there are alot of u who would look a me and say that i am disgusting but i dont care i could not sit back and watch a puppy die when there was something i could do for it i would not resort to breastfeeding as the first thing as i told you we bought the special formula for the puppys one of them just would not take the bottle

    • brucehood

      I don’t think that what you did was wrong. This would be considered fairly normal in other societies and I know some who treat their pets as if they were their own children. I don’t really have a problem intellectually but if I am being honest, then I would probably be surprised.. until I got used to it.

    • Gerard Simons

      Yes, you did the right thing, even though it would be wrong with many people. That little pup is alive because your breasts kept it alive. Otherwise it would very likely be dead by now. Good on you. What is right and what is wrong in this case are opinions. Just as in Aesop’s fable of the father and son who took their donkey to the market to sell it. Along the way, they listened to what others had to say and they lost their donkey as a result.

  67. Gerard Simons

    Nathan Alupot, Jennifer’s husband must face court and bear the consequences of his actions. No woman should undergo anything against their will(s).

  68. It’s recently hit the front cover of Time magazine, the topic of breastfeeding –

  69. Anonymous

    When people first settled this country, they lived on farms in the wilderness. Their animals were precious to them. When they had a baby animal whose mother wouldn’t or couldn;t feed it for what ever reason, a woman who had milk in her breasts fed the animal as a matter of course.

  70. sheela

    I am widow of 32 age .I give my utrus for rent. As soon as I give bearth to child ,paid family took child from me. I had large milk supply. So I felt pain on my breast due to milk filling. And one night I cant tolerate pain. So I took my pet goat of 2 months age and allow it to suck my breast. It get great relief. Now I continue for last 4 months.

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