In this slightly uncomfortable video captured by Earth Touch, watch a female fur seal give birth near Capetown, South Africa. And then watch another female kidnap the infant pup before it's even left the birth canal. Fair warning: the video is fascinating but not for the squeamish.
So, let me get this straight: first the poor little guy or girl was dragged head first over rocks, then it was snatched up by another female. Then, a gull comes and nibbles at the placenta while it's still attached to the infant. Talk about a rough delivery. When mom tries to get her pup back, the seal-napper reacts quite aggressively.
Kidnapping isn't entirely unknown in the animal kingdom. In a 1982 paper in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, researchers Marianne Riedman and Burney Le Boeuf describe a similar event among the elephant seals of California's Año Nuevo Island. "A few females aggressively attempted to steal a pup from its mother," they write, but the explanation for the behavior is left to the readers' imagination.
This story has a happy ending, by the way. According to Earth Touch writer Sarah Keartes, the seal went on to take its first swim with its mother.