Father’s Day is coming up, and it’s a great time to go to the zoo. Not only can you visit the various dads that live at the zoo (look for the blue bow ties on the signs), but every dad who visits the zoo with his kids on Father’s Day can enjoy some special treats during their safari through the zoo to see animals from around the world.
Any dad who purchases a giraffe or rhino encounter for one or more of his kids can also enjoy an animal encounter for free. At the Safari Shoppe, dads can celebrate with 10 percent off their purchases made while the kids are present (if a Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo member it’s 20 percent off). FOLRZ is also offering $5 off any family or grandparent membership purchased that day. Memberships can be purchased at the gatehouse or at the Safari Shoppe.
Dads come in all shapes and sizes and have a range of responsibilities that they perform in different ways. No two dads are exactly alike. Here are some examples of top dads from the animal kingdom.
Seahorses are probably one of the most renowned dads there are. They actually get pregnant. The female deposits her eggs in his pouch, where he fertilizes the eggs and carries them to term. A seahorse can have from five to 1,500 babies at one time.
Emperor penguin dads not only watch over the egg after mom lays it, but go for months at a time without eating while dealing with very harsh, frigid conditions (can be as low as minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill) while performing this parental duty in the Antarctic. Dad keeps the egg warm by holding it on top of his feet and covering it with a skin fold called a brood pouch. If the chick hatches before mom returns, dad supplies a milky-type substance from his esophagus to feed the chick.
A male rhea incubates eggs from multiple females at one time in a shallow nest on the ground that is lined with some sticks and vegetation. He may sit on 10 to 60 eggs for about 40 days. After the eggs hatch, dad raises the chicks on his own, protecting them and teaching them how to fend for themselves. Dads may even adopt unrelated chicks that become separated from their group. Many marmoset dads help clean the babies (usually twins) right after they’re born and start caring for the infants from day one while mom recuperates. Male Goeldi’s monkeys and other family members share responsibilities for carrying the little one, relieving mom of all but nursing responsibilities when the infant is about 3 weeks of age. This continues until the infant can move about independently.
A great hornbill dad will feed his mate, as well as any new offspring once they hatch, multiple times a day while these family members are safely sealed in a nesting cavity in a tree. Initially, the pair worked together to seal the cavity with mud and dung for the protection of the female and eggs/chicks, all except for the small slit through which the male passes the food. This continues until the chicks are nearly ready to leave the shelter and mom breaks through the seal. Then the parents team up to keep the chicks fed. A red fox dad also provides “room service” for his mate and new offspring. Once the pups are old enough, dad plays with them and teaches the pups the skills they’ll need to survive on their own.
Flamingo moms and dads select their nest site together and then build the nest together out of mud. Once the female lays the egg, dad shares incubation duties equally with his mate. After the chick hatches, the couple continues to share parenting responsibilities equally.
To all the dads out there, thanks for all you do. Have a great Father’s Day!
Kristi Newland is the executive director of Lee Richardson Zoo.