Canada Post has issued a new Animal Mothers and Babies stamp set highlighting two special caregivers of the wild – the sea otter and the red-necked grebe. Native to Canada, both species are known for their incredible devotion to their young, allowing their babies to float on them during the first stage of their lives.
Issued on April 18 ahead of Mother’s Day and during the week of Earth Day, the stamps celebrate the bond between animal mothers and their young while also encouraging positive action on protecting Canada’s wildlife.
Mature female sea otters give birth to a single pup every year for life. Dedicated to their pups for the first six months of their lives, mothers –the sole caregivers – float on their backs to feed, groom and cradle their babies. During this time, the pups also 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.
Monogamous pairs of red-necked grebes share 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 can 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 and the loss of their freshwater nesting habitat from other human disturbances.
Designer Meredith MacKinlay of Halifax-based Egg Design chose embroidery as the basis for the design because it evokes the feel of home and family love and the texture of fur and feathers. Temagami Anishinaabe artist Caroline Brown created the images on the stamps using a combination of traditional embroidery and beadwork.
Printed by Lowe-Martin, the issue includes a booklet of six Permanent domestic rate stamps, a souvenir sheet of both stamps and an Official First Day Cover. The cancel site is Vancouver, as British Columbia is home to Canada’s only remaining sea otter population.