Top five most dedicated dads of the animal kingdom

Being a father in the animal kingdom isn't easy. With survival of the species often falling under his daily chore list, some animal fathers will go to great lengths to ensure their young, and even their mates and entire tribes are well cared for. Here are five animal dads and their unique parenting styles that deserve a special day in their honor.

Marmosets dote.

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The task of caring for newborns falls to the male marmoset. They lick and groom them from birth while the mothers recover from labor, and they continue to stay by her side. In fact, males never stray from their baby’s mom despite the common myth that a male’s animal instinct is to only spread his genes.

Marmoset fathers are also hands-on during birth, going as far to clean up the afterbirth and bite off the umbilical cord. In rearing, he becomes responsible for feeding his young, and carrying them on his back until they’re strong enough to venture on their own.

Barbary Macaques show their worth.

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Not to be outdone by a fellow primate, male barbary macaques predicate their entire social status upon their young. Dads carry infants on their backs, showing them off as a way to impress each other and build social networks. These monkeys live in troops about 30 members strong, and their culture revolves around the babies born each spring.

During baby season, males will even pick up offspring that aren’t their own to parade around, showing that they’re sought-after providers for their entire society.

Seahorses do it all.

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Seahorse dads are the ultimate catch in oceanic #couplegoals. They’re the ones to get pregnant, and brood eggs in their pouch until birth. The process goes like this: the female transfers her eggs to the male’s abdominal pouch, made of modified skin. The male releases sperm to fertilize the eggs as they enter, and then incubates them for 24 days until they are born. When the tiny eggs hatch, he keeps them in his pouch until they're accustomed to the sea's salinity. The icing on the cake: male seahorses are monogamous, mating for life. 

Sand grouses go the extra mile.

Bernard Dupont (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Young sand grouses - ground-dwelling birds that live in Namibia’s arid deserts - don’t have access to life’s most essential resource: water. So sand grouse fathers come to the rescue by undertaking a grueling commute of almost 125 miles each day to make sure their family has water.

Once at a pool, male sand grouses rock back and forth in it to soak their belly feathers, which hold water in hairlike coils. This isn’t any luxury dip in a pool: filling up can take 15 minutes, leaving them exposed to predators like swooping falcons. At the end of a long day of travel, the dads are able provide their young with few precious tablespoons of water that the chicks suck from their father’s belly feathers.

Penguins have the utmost patience.

Dr. Robert Ricker, NOAA/NOS/ORR

Penguin dads take over egg-sitting duties for weeks while mom heads to sea to hunt. Males fast while she’s gone, but if the chick hatches before her return, dad will regurgitate a curd-like substance to feed the newborn.

Males are so important to the brooding process that females purposely seek pudgy partners who can last longer without food. In fact, females can tell how fat a male penguin is by listening to his hoarse mating cries, which sound like the cross between a donkey and a stalled car. The buffer the male, the steadier his call.