Happy Father's Day! Celebrate With An Adorable Look At The World's Greatest Dads In The Animal Kingdom

It's Father's Day, which means human kids everywhere are celebrating that important man in their lives they call dad. But if you think fatherhood is complicated for people, you should read up on the animal kingdom! On one hand, many animals in the wild never meet their biological fathers, but there are many little critters whose fathers fast, sometimes for months, just to protect their young. Even more adorable are the animal dads that dote on their young much like humans do.

In celebration of Father’s Day this weekend, here is a collection of fathers that would really deserve that “World’s Greatest Dad” button, if only they wouldn’t try to eat it.

Emperor Penguins

Emperor penguin fathers exhibit a crazy amount of discipline. After mother penguins lay the eggs, they return to the sea to hunt and feed, sometimes for up to two months. While the mothers hunt, the fathers stand perfectly still, balancing the fragile eggs on the tops of their feet, and keeping the growing babies warm in their feathered brood pouch. One false move, and the egg could crack or slip and freeze in the frigid arctic air.

Oh yeah, and, the new penguin dads don’t eat anything at all for the entirety of the mothers’ hunting trips.


Marmosets are an unusually monogamous primate native to South America. After the birth of their young, marmoset fathers groom, look after, and play with the babies much like human fathers.


Male seahorses carry gestating seahorse eggs much like a regular pregnancy. Female seahorses inject unfertilized eggs into the males’ pouch where they stay for 10 to 25 days until they are ready to be born.

Image: Fotolia

The Darwin Frog

The Darwin frog swallows his newly hatched young, not for a protein-packed snack, but to protect the little tadpoles until they are ready to live as frogs. The babies swim around in their father’s vocal sac for six to eight weeks until they metamorphosize, and begin to hop out of dad’s mouth and into the wide world. Male Darwin frogs will frequently not eat a thing for the entire brooding period.


The hardworking fathers of the owl world spend cold winter nights hunting for prey to feed their mates and hatchlings for up to a month while the mother stays home to protect the eggs, and eventually, the hatchlings. While this might sound like standard duty to any man who has made a 3 a.m. run to Jack In The Box for his lady, female birds of prey, including owls, are actually 25 percent larger than their male counterparts, and require a tremendous amount of nourishment after laying their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the food burden multiplies. Eventually, mama will leave the babies in the nest to assist with the collection of rats and mice to feed the increasingly large and hungry little owls, but that first month requires quite a lot of hard work from new owl dads.


During the several weeks that it takes for catfish eggs to hatch, catfish dads will swim around carrying the eggs in his mouth. Much like the Darwin Frog and the Emperor Penguin, catfish fathers will abstain from food until the eggs are hatched. Talk about a protective dad!

Image: Fotolia


From the time a mother wolf begins to deliver her pups, the father begins to stand guard outside of their den, scaring away any potential threats to his young. After the wolf pups are born, their father plays an important role in teaching the difference between play fighting and real danger. Much like during the socialization of domesticated puppies, baby wolves spend most of their waking hours playing with dad and with their littermates and, don’t forget, eating!