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Animal maternal imprinting is the imprinting process in the mother that occurs in some animals enabling her to be able to identify her offspring and to continue to care for it. For example, in the process of olfactory imprinting in sheep ewes, having just given birth, imprint onto their lambs on the basis of olfactory cues, allowing mothers to distinguish their own offspring from other lambs in the flock. This olfactory-based imprinting is dependent on a ewe’s behavior after giving birth, on the presence of amniotic fluid, and on a specialized odor-influenced learning process which allows the ewe to quickly memorize the smell of her offspring, to whom she then forms an exclusive maternal bond.

See also