In honor of Father’s Day, we’re celebrating some outstanding animal dads who go to great lengths for their offspring, whether it's protecting them from threats, keeping them warm and fed, or socializing them through play.
Here’s a look at five remarkable animal dads:
1. Mountain Gorilla
Male mountain gorillas, known as silverback gorillas because of the coloring of their coats when they mature, lead cohesive families, defending females and offspring from threats by charging and beating their chests. They play an important role in his offspring’s socialization, and support infants during times of weaning. Virunga National Park is home to more than half the world's mountain gorilla population. WWF has worked to reforest areas and fund antipoaching patrols in Virunga as well as collaborate with the local people to raise environmental awareness.
2. Pygmy Marmoset
The whole family pitches in to care for baby pygmy marmosets, a tiny primate found in the jungles of South America. Pygmy marmosets live in small groups, usually consisting of the parents and several sets of offspring. The smallest monkeys in the world, adult marmosets weigh an average of four ounces. Pygmy marmosets usually give birth to twins, each one weighing only around half of an ounce. Father pygmy marmosets help mothers carry their offspring.
3. Arctic Wolf
Wolf fathers are very protective of and attentive to their mates and their pups. Wolves generally pair for life, and usually only the alpha male and female of a pack mate. The whole pack pitches in to help raise the pups, and the father is responsible for guarding the den and hunting for food. Pups can travel with the pack at about five months. WWF works with governments, businesses and communities across the Arctic to combat the threats to the region and to preserve its rich biodiversity, including the presence of the Arctic wolf.
4. Emperor Penguins
Perhaps the best-known wildlife fathers of all, male Emperor penguins begin their paternal duties long before their offspring are born. After the mother lays her egg, she returns to the sea to feed on a two-month long journey, and the father’s job—keeping the egg safe and warm—begins. He spends two long, arduous months balancing the egg on his feet in the harsh Antarctic winter, protecting it with his brooding pouch. He has to fast for these two months, unable to eat anything until the mother penguin returns and he can make his own journey to the sea to replenish himself.
Seahorse fathers break all the rules—they're the onces who get pregnant and give birth. After the seahorse mother deposits her eggs into the father’s pouch, the father fertilizes the eggs and incubates them until he gives birth to the tiny, fully-formed seahorses. This happens after about 20 to 28 days of pregnancy.