Moms often get the credit for not only childbearing but also childrearing, while dads are left out and ignored. Though moms everywhere should of course be championed for their hard work when it comes to raising children, so too should dads! Whether it gets noticed or not, Pops has to make sacrifices and take on a new role when a child is born — and the same goes for these amazing animal dads.
Some animal dads get an bad rap for being totally uninterested in their offspring, while other furry fathers go above and beyond to take care of their little ones. Consider the seahorse, for instance, one of the few species where the male is the partner that gets pregnant, or the emperor penguin, who sits on his eggs, cold and hungry, for almost two months.
To honor these hardworking fellas, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite dedicated dads. If they were humans, we’re sure they’d have a pantry full of World’s Best Dad mugs.
Keep scrolling to learn more about the best dads in the animal kingdom.
Best Animal Dads Gorillas
Is there anything sweeter than seeing a baby gorilla with his or her big brown eyes, flyaway hairs, and an expressive mouth snuggle up with his or her dad? It's a scene that very much mirrors our own experience raising our little ones.
Like humans, gorilla dads are fierce protectors of their young, beating their chests and charging at predators who threaten their family. Dads are crucial to their children's socialization and weaning, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and attentive fathers increase their offspring's chances of survival if the mom dies or leaves the group.
Sometimes, certain species of male gorillas will even let their kids sleep in their nest with him.
Best Animal Dads African Bullfrog
If you immediately thought "gross," hear us out! Not all good dads are cute and cuddly. Just like with humans, dads come in all shapes in sizes. This hardworking dad just so happens to be green and slimy.
Female African bullfrogs can lay between 3,000 and 4,000 eggs, and it's the male's job to watch over them. Bullfrog dads will sit with the eggs until they hatch into tadpoles, defending their kids from any predators with their sharp teeth.
African bullfrogs lay their eggs in shallow ponds off the side of a larger pond. If the pond where the tadpoles are growing starts to dry out, Dad will quickly dig a tunnel between the small pond and the larger pond so his babies can survive.
Best Animal Dads Emperor Penguins Male
Thanks to Happy Feet and the March of the Penguins franchise, these adorable white-and-black birds are known as the ultimate dedicated dads. We've all seen those adorable images of fluffy emperor penguin babies slipping, sliding, and shuffling around the ice — but it's all thanks to months of Dad's diligent and determined care that made their existence possible.
Male emperor penguins will sit on their eggs for a little more than a month until the babies hatch. After that, dads will regurgitate food for their live young and keep them warm while they wait another month for their mates to return with fresh food for Baby.
Best Animal Dads Male Seahorses
For many animals, childbearing (and rearing!) is left to the females — but not seahorses. Male seahorses have a special pouch where the females leave their unfertilized eggs. The pregnant males release a hormone called prolactin, which nurtures the babies growing inside him.
Dad seahorses are pregnant for only 10 to 25 days depending on the species, but despite their short pregnancies, they can give birth to thousands of live young. Some seahorses push out as many as 2,500 babies!
Being pregnant certainly helped us develop an unbreakable bond with our children, but ladies, wouldn't it be nice if our husbands could be the pregnant ones — even if it were just for a day?
Best Animal Dads Marmosets
Though marmoset dads aren't the ones carrying their babies to term, they do literally carry their kids on their backs for much of their childhood. Apparently, some doting marmosets dads act as midwives, supporting their mates through childbirth, cleaning the afterbirth, and even biting the umbilical cord.
Researchers found that marmoset babies with attentive fathers were more likely to not only survive past their first 30 days but also gain weight faster. Just like in human families, when Dad is involved, it also takes stress away from Mom — making for a happier brood!
Best Animal Dads Rhea Males
Though these flightless birds keep a harem of women, they're especially devoted to their offspring. While Mom runs off after laying her eggs, Dad gets to work protecting and incubating up to 60 eggs! Add to that the fact that he has to sit on them for roughly two months with only two weeks of food in his stomach to sustain him, it's obvious that rhea dads are a dedicated flock.
Of course, the work doesn't end once the chicks are born. Dad then has to deal with raising his babies as a single parent for at least two years! And you'd better not mess with Dad during this time. He'll charge at anyone or anything he thinks is a threat to his babies — even female rheas.
Best Animal Dads Waterbug
Giant Water Bugs
The next time you think about squashing a bug, just remember: It might be a dad! Even creepy-crawlies like the giant water bug have families to go home to at the end of the day.
When it comes to having kids, water bugs pretty evenly split parenting duties. (How modern of them!) Mom will cement her eggs to her mate's back, and Dad gives his kids — roughly 150 in total — a piggyback ride for the next week.