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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day

Children who visit zoos, no matter what their actual background, tend to be a somewhat culturally conservative lot, especially when it comes to families.  Show them an exhibit with three animals in it and they'll be sure to interpret it as the following - a mom, a dad, and a baby.  Show them an exhibit with two, especially if one is bigger than the other, and you've got a mom and a baby.

There's definitely a parental disparity among the animal kingdom.  In many species, dad deposits his sperm and skedaddles.  Parenting tends to be a single-sex job.  This Father's Day, let's tip our hats to some of the great dads of the zoo and aquarium world.

Tamarin and marmoset dads take possession of their infant children almost from the moment when they are born.  This frees up the mother to forage, thereby allowing her to get the nutrition she needs to produce milk for the twins. 

Rhea fathers go a step further.  They don't just babysit... they sit on the babies.  As in, them and them alone.  The females deposit their eggs and leave them.  The responsibility for incubating the eggs (shared between the sexes in ostriches) falls entirely to the male.  The responsibilities don't end there.  After the eggs hatch, the chicks get taken under their father's wing and he ushers them across the pampas until they are grown.

Seahorse fathers take it a step even further.  It's not true, as is ofttimes claimed, that the male's get pregnant, per se.  Instead, the females pass the eggs over to the male, who carries them until they hatch.

Happy Father's Day to all the human dads out there, who would do anything for your kids.  Well, maybe anything except getting pregnant.

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