Being a father in the animal kingdom isn't easy. Some go to great lengths to ensure their young, mates, and entire communities are well cared for and supported. Here are five animal dads and their unique parenting styles that deserve a special day in their honor.
The task of caring for newborns surprisingly falls to the male marmoset. Licking and grooming their young, male marmosets give females time to recover from labor. The fathers are also hands-on during birth, going as far as to clean up the afterbirth and bite off the umbilical cord.
In rearing, males become responsible for feeding the young and carrying them on their backs until they're strong enough to venture independently. Male marmosets never stray from their families, despite the common myth that a male's animal instinct is only to spread his genes.
Barbary Macaques show their worth
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 of about 30 members, 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
Seahorse dads are the ultimate catch in the ocean. They're the ones to get pregnant and brood eggs in their pouch until birth.
Females transfer their eggs into 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 with their partners for life.
Sand grouses go the extra mile
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 daily to ensure their family has something to drink.
Once at a pool, male sand grouses rock back and forth 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, exposing them to predators like swooping falcons. At the end of a long day of travel, the dads can provide their young with a few precious tablespoons of water that the chicks suck from their father's belly feathers.
Penguins have the utmost patience
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 crucial to brooding that females purposely seek pudgy partners who can last longer without food. 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.
Whether commuting long distances or taking on newborn duties, fathers throughout the animal kingdom demonstrate what it means to be a dad. Happy Father’s Day to all those out there supporting their young!