In many species, the father isn’t always present. That’s why I wanted to shine a light on the animals that play a vital role in bringing up their young, including one that even brings their babies into this world!
One of the most famous fathers found in the animal kingdom is the Emperor penguin, who duties begin as soon as the egg is laid. The mother passes their precious cargo over to the male penguin for him to keep safe and warm whilst she returns to the sea to feed – a journey that often takes two months to complete. The male Emperor penguin carefully balances the egg on his feet, covering it with his brood pouch, for eight whole weeks ensuring that it never touches the frozen Antarctic ground. Top marks!
Male mountain gorillas lead their family troop, fiercely protecting their offspring and females from external threats, such as other males looking to take over. They are pivotal in teaching their offspring how to socialise with others and can often be seen carrying their babies around, as well as hugging and playing with them. Male mountain gorillas have also been known to support young during the weaning phase.
Male seahorses go against the grain when it comes to being a father in that they’re the ones who give birth to their young. This is because female seahorses will deposit her eggs inside the pouch of a male, where fertilisation takes place. He’ll then look after the seahorse embryos until they become tiny, fully-formed seahorses 20 to 28 days later. How cool!
When it comes to pygmy marmosets, the whole family pitches in with caring for the newborn… including the dads! These little creatures are the world’s smallest monkey, weighing (on average) just over 100g. Since pygmy marmosets often give birth to twins, it’s quite common for the males to help carrying them around – one each!
Generally mating for life, Arctic wolves are very protective of their young pups and mothers. Since the pack – led by an alpha male and their female partner – is responsible for raising the pups together as a whole, the father’s primary role is to guard the den and provide food for their young by frequently going hunting.
Over to you!
Who are your top wildlife fathers? I’d love to know in the comments below.