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Why Do We Find Baby Animals So Darn Cute?
We seem to coo over them, no matter the species, even if we wouldn't be interested in the adult animals at all. So what makes baby animals so appealing to us? How are they universally cute, when adult animals seem to be a matter of opinion?
The answer is that nature (or God or whoever you want to credit) planned it this way and backed up that plan with several reasons for us to find baby animals cute.
(By the way, I'm not a behaviorist or psychologist; this hub is based only on personal experience, intuition, and several studies I've read in textbooks over time.)
1. The Helpless Factor
Adults of most species will be attracted to babies of most species because of the natural instinct to nurture that which is helpless.
I back this up with the stories I constantly hear from animal rescuers where a nursing mother dog will take an orphaned kid (baby goat, not human child) into her litter to nurse and nurture or the famous story of the dog who nursed a sick kitten back to health, literally.
It is ingrained in us to want to care for something that cannot care for itself. (Of course there are exceptions to this rule, like when Tosca the polar bear rejected her son Knut, and he achieved international fame.) Since baby animals cannot care for themselves, we want to help care for them, even if it's just subconsciously. For the most part, that which is living wants to preserve life.
2. The Nurture Factor
Some experts believe that most of us don't do as much nurturing as our bodies would like to do. We, as humans (especially women), are designed to nurture, but many studies are showing that we don't get enough contact with other animals, human or otherwise.
So when we see a cute animal, we want to nurture it. This is different from the helpless factor because we don't only want to save it by giving it the basics of food and shelter; we want to cuddle with the animal and make it feel loved. It's only natural.
This is why many humans find mammal and fuzzy baby animals more attractive than scaly or slimy baby animals: we think they would feel better to cuddle!
3. The Innocence Factor
Baby animals are just like baby humans because they are innocent, untainted. A baby wild animal has likely never killed for her food, and while we may not blame a wild animal for killing to eat, knowing that it has might somehow distance us from that animal.
This lion cub to the right is adorable because he's fuzzy, but also because you could probably play with him! Adult lions are beautiful, but you probably wouldn't want to get up close to them.
Since we're stronger than many baby animals, we feel like we can control them, and therefore we feel like they pose no danger to us. It just makes them all the cuter!
4. The Aesthetic Factor
This is the least graspable but probably the most obvious. We find the animals cute... because they're cute!
Why baby animals look cute is a bit more illusive, but it seems to come down to the fact that they are adorably disproportionate. A puppy has huge paws and ears that are way too big for his body.
This monkey's eyes are huge for its face and therefore seem to convey innocence. The fawn to the right also has big eyes and wobbly legs (which also make it vulnerable, so we want to care for it... all these reasons are intertwined).
The elephant calf has a huge forehead and ears, and though elephants are silly looking anyway, the little ones are at our eye level and cuddlier.
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This hub is purely speculative... so what do you think? Why are baby animals so cute to us? I'd love to hear it!
And maybe it was just an excuse to look at cute pictures of animals. ;)