Mom is often the first to get props when it comes to raising the kids, but let’s not forget to give Dad credit where credit is due. The best dads in the animal kingdom will go to great lengths when it comes to parenting, whether it’s turning a blind eye while their lady is sleeping around or sacrificing their very lives for their children.
Check out 10 dedicated dads from around the globe that have earned their Father’s Day ties and then some.
Our first dad just barely makes the cut. While the lion earns points for being fiercely protective of his family, unfortunately he’s also a real snoozer, more often than not sleeping when he should be keeping a closer eye on his kids. But beware, because when this dad IS awake, you don’t want to mess with him. A lion’s eyesight is five times better than a human’s, and the king of the jungle can hear prey across the savanna up to 2 miles away! Also, this is one dad that could use a minivan — actually, make that a bus. Lions head up large family units called prides that can include up to seven lionesses and 20 cubs!
This marsupial mouse from Australia makes the list due to his sheer tenacity when it comes to making love. While most guys would die to get a little action, this guy actually dies WHEN he gets a little action. Well not a little, more like a LOT. The antechinus can spend up to 12 hours having sex! In fact, this super-mouse gets so distracted he forgets to eat, drink and sleep. Between that and the steroids that build up in his blood, he doesn’t stand a chance. His mate makes the most of it, filling herself up with sperm until the end of the breeding season. But don’t feel too sad about the passing of dear old Dad. With him out of the picture, there’s more food for those left behind — plus he likely died a very happy mouse!
There are few examples in nature of a father more dedicated than the emperor penguin. After the female lays the egg, her nutritional reserves become depleted and she must return to feed in the ocean for two months. This leaves the responsibility of keeping the egg warm through the freezing Antarctic winter to the father.
The father spends the two months holding the egg precariously between the tops of his feet and his brooding pouch, without feeding, throughout the brutal winter (when freezing winds can reach 120 mph). If he moves too suddenly or the egg becomes exposed to the freezing temperatures, the chick will perish. But his dedication — and his balance — ensures the survival of a new generation. What a dad!
Sure, the small and furry tree-dwelling primates known as marmosets are outrageously cute, but male marmosets take their roles as fathers very seriously. With the help of other family members, including older siblings, the typical marmoset dad grooms, feeds and give his infants piggyback rides while momma marmoset steps away and takes on a decidedly “disinterested” parenting role after a few weeks. Marmoset fathers will often act as attentive midwifes during the birth of their newborns, going as far to clean up the afterbirth and bite off the umbilical cord.
Jeff French, primatologist at the University of Nebraska Zoo, tells National Geographic that one reason the marmoset daddy is so involved is because of the tremendous physical strain put on the expectant mother. “It’s like a 120-pound (55-kilogram)
Seahorses are unique because they belong to a fish family known for an oddity: male pregnancy.
Male seahorses have a pouch where females deposit their eggs. Once deposited, the male fertilizes the eggs and incubates them for a period of up to 45 days, until they emerge as fully developed little seahorses. Seahorse fathers even experience contractions as they give birth.
A native of India, the golden jackal is a real stand-up kind of dad. Hunting three times more effectively when working in pairs, these skillful scavengers remain remarkably loyal partners; unlike so many other animals, jackals mate for life. On top of earning gold stars for being the poster dad for monogamy, the golden jackal also knows a thing or two about keeping the grocery bills down — this dad feeds his kids with regurgitated food. Hm. On second thought, that may be taking the “hand me down” concept a little too far.
The jacana is also known as the “lily trotter,” thanks to its ability to “walk on water” by balancing on lily pads, but this Dad could use a little more balance in his personal life. This determined bird will go to extremes to become a dad. After building his nest, he finds his mate and they do the deed. But after the female has laid her eggs, she abandons the poor sap to run off with other guys. Meanwhile, Dad remains on the nest, watching over the eggs to protect them — sometimes from their own mother! Female jacanas often return and smash their own eggs; however, this is a surprisingly forgiving dad. Instead of pressing charges, he just jumps back in the sack and gives it another go, regardless of the fact that his lady has so many partners and he never really knows if he’s raising his own. Quick, someone page Maury Povich and get these guys a paternity test!
The giant African bullfrog is a dad with a very special talent — he can eat anything that he can fit into his mouth. Not sure how much that helps in terms of child rearing, but with over 6,000 little ones to raise it’s got to come in handy sometimes. The South American Darwin frog is also a remarkable dad, thanks to his unique method for protecting his eggs: he swallows them, keeping them tucked inside his vocal sacs for six weeks. When they’re ready to hatch, it’s like morning sickness gone wrong — very wrong. This dedicated father essentially “vomits” up his children. Ew. Anyone got some mouthwash?
Despite their fearsome reputation as apex predators, male wolves are attentive, monogamous and fiercely protective dads that live with their she-wolves for life. A wolf pack is essentially a classic nuclear family consisting of a mom, dad and kids.
After a female wolf gives birth, she sticks close to her helpless pups and doesn’t leave her den for several weeks. Dad stands guard and hunts for food to share with his new family, and doesn’t skimp when it comes to sharing edibles with his progeny. Whereas a female wolf will regurgitate meat to share with a litter (pups can start eating meat at three weeks), dad will provide entire pieces of fresh kill. As a young pup grows, dad takes on the role of stern, sometimes playful mentor helping integrate the pup into the pack.
At first glance it might seem like these South American flightless birds have a rather unusual mating arrangement. A polygamous species, the male runs around with a harem of anywhere between two and 12 females. But before you raise an eyebrow, take note: these dads carry their weight and then some when it comes to child rearing. Females leave their eggs with Dad, running off to get some action from other males. Meanwhile, Dad looks after the kids, not only incubating up to 60 eggs for over two months with just two weeks of food to sustain him, but also raising the newborn chicks as a single parent for nearly two years. And this dad is not afraid to charge at anyone — be it other female rheas or even humans! — who make the mistake of trying to get near his brood.