Happy Father’s Day!

By Hannah Schardt; photos by Minden Pictures

Most animal dads don’t do much—or anything at all—to raise their young. But some wild fathers are top pops!

When this little red fox (above) greets its father with a lick, that’s the kit’s way of saying, “Hi, Dad! Nice to see you!” But maybe it SHOULD be saying, “Thanks for all you do!” A red fox dad is one of the best wild-animal fathers around. He brings his babies food, plays with them, and keeps them safe. In honor of Father’s Day this month, keep reading to see how some other superdads work hard to help raise their youngsters.


Waiting and Watching

Patience is a big part of being a good parent. And emperor penguin dads must be some of the most patient parents around! The penguin father (above) balances a single egg between his feet and his belly. Right after his mate laid the egg, she left to spend two months feasting on fish at sea. Papa Penguin will spend those months eating nothing at all while keeping the egg warm and safe. Once it hatches, he’ll care for the young chick until his mate comes back to take her turn.

plainfin midshipman

The fish above, called a plainfin midshipman, may not be as cute as a penguin. (Check out that fleshy, frowny face!) But he’s a great dad, too. When it’s time to mate, he moves from the deep ocean to the shore. There, he finds a good nesting spot in a pool of water beneath a rock. After a female lays eggs there and he fertilizes them, Father Fish stays put, keeping the nest clean and the eggs safe and moist. Even after the babies hatch, as these have done, Father sticks around to protect the tiny fish until they’re old enough to swim away.

Geoffroy’s tamarin

Giving Rides

Some wild animal babies need Dad’s help getting around. The baby Geoffroy’s tamarin above clings tightly to its dad’s back. These little monkeys spend almost all their time in trees. To get from place to place, Baby Tamarin relies on its parents—especially Dad. Dad can leap, climb, and even eat, all while carrying his little one.

blessed poison frog

Can you see the tiny tadpole on the back of the jewellike blessed poison frog above right? Daddy Frog is carrying his newly hatched young to a tiny pool of water that collects in the base of a plant. The father will leave the tadpole there, where it will grow and change into an adult frog.

common kingfishers

Dinner Duty

Many of the hardest-working animal dads are birds. They may help build nests, bring food to their mates, and take turns sitting on eggs to keep them warm and safe. And once their eggs hatch, some bird dads spend hours each day finding food for their young. The busy common kingfisher dad above, along with his mate, will feed each hungry chick as many as 18 times a day for as long as a month! No wonder kingfishers chase away their young as soon as the “kids” are ready to leave the nest. Mom and Dad need a break!

snub nosed monkeys

Protecting the Family

The world can be a scary place for baby animals. They’re small and weak, so they’re easy prey for other animals that want to eat them. But some lucky youngsters have a secret weapon: a fierce,
protective dad! The golden snub-nosed monkey dad above bares his super-sharp teeth to scare off an intruder. These monkeys live in groups of one male, several females, and their babies. The
male’s job is to protect the whole family from predators—or photographers who get too close!


Ostriches are the biggest birds on Earth. (A male ostrich can grow to be taller than the tallest basketball player!) They also lay huge eggs. Raising the chicks that hatch from those eggs is a BIG job. Right from the start, ostrich dads help care for their young by sitting on the nest at night, when their dark feathers hide the eggs from hungry predators. Once the chicks hatch and start moving around, they stick close to Mom and Dad for several months. The watchful dad below will chase off any predator that might want to grab a little ostrich snack.


Snuggle Time

Many young animals survive just fine without any tender loving care. But certain animal parents—especially mammals—cuddle, hug, and play with their babies. And one of the most affectionate dads around is a silverback gorilla. (A silverback—named for the silvery fur on his back—is the leading male in a group of gorillas.)

Male gorillas have a reputation for being tough and fierce. But they can also be gentle, patient, and kind to the littlest members of their families. Gorilla dads often pick up their babies just to snuggle or play. And young gorillas spend a lot of time hanging out with Dad, as the one above is doing. Naptime is over, Dad—I’m ready to play!


emperor penguin video


Don’t forget to wish ALL the dads in your life a very happy Father’s Day! 

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