Sure, human dads will slip you a couple of bucks and give you lots of advice – but can they give birth? Male sea horses can. PETA hopes that while you’re praising your family’s patriarch this Father’s Day, you’ll also remember that some of the best dads in the world can be found in the animal kingdom:
- Seahorses: The “Mr Mums” of the marine world, male sea horses carry up to 2,000 fertilised eggs in pouches in their stomachs until they hatch. Even after the babies are born, they stay inside the pouch until they are ready to venture out on their own.
- Microhylid frogs: These frogs from New Guinea take family road trips to a new extreme. Once babies hatch, up to 24 froglets climb onto their father’s back as he hops 50 feet every night, dropping the froglets off along the way to begin a new life on their own.
- Darwin’s rheas: Thought your dad could be overprotective at times? Darwin’s rheas, also known as South American ostriches, are so protective of their children that they routinely rush cowboys on horseback and have even been known to attack small airplanes on the ground if they get too close to their brood.
- Marmosets: These little monkeys do everything but attend Lamaze class. Fathers assist during labour by biting off the umbilical cord and cleaning up the afterbirth. They also let mom get some R&R by taking care of the kids when she’s not nursing them.
- Sandgrouse: These pigeon-like birds sponge off their fathers – literally. Living in areas where water is sparse, fathers fly as many as 50 miles to get water for their offspring. After they soak up the water in their feathers, they fly home and let their chicks suckle the moisture from their bodies.
- Emperor Penguins: Protecting their eggs is just the tip of the iceberg. While the female leaves the colony for the winter, the male incubates the egg by putting it on his feet and covering it with a skin fold to keep it warm. The males can’t go out and feed, so they fast for four months until the chicks hatch.
- Red jungle fowl: Red jungle fowl are the progenitors of the domestic chicken. Fathers not only protect both hens and chicks from predators but also introduce chicks to the pecking order when they are just a week old and teach them the ways of the world in the first seven weeks after they are born.
- Lions: Just ask Mufasa how much these big cats love their cubs. We like to call this guy the ultimate “watch dad.” While the female lion does most of the hunting for the family, it’s the mane-sporting “man of the house” who watches over his babies and fights to the death for their safety. With up to a dozen cubs to mind at once, the King of the Jungle has no shortage of daycare responsibilities.
All dads deserve to be honoured – whether they have fins, feathers, fur or a cardigan. This Father’s Day, honour animal dads, too, by practicing kindness and compassion toward all animals.