Nature knows best. And looking for fantastic examples of almost anything we can look to the natural world for help. Many species portray the shining example of fatherhood, reinforcing life skills necessary for survival, keeping everyone fed, and being a committed spouse. This fathers day we take a look a few of those rad dads from the natural world!
1. The Red Fox
By ancient folklore the fox is typically symbolized as trickster. In reality, while cunning, the foxes real trick is it's ability to be a great parent. With a few practices that bring their young kits through their short adolescence and into adulthood ready to fend for themselves.
When the cubs are born they are blind, deaf, and can't thermo-regulate. For 3-4 months their mum stays home while dad toughs the wild to bring home fresh rabbits, reptiles, or at times vegetation every 5-6 hours. After a few months dad suddenly cuts off the food, seems harsh, and the young are forced to exit and look for their next meal. Like a good dad it's all a cunning ploy to teach survival skills. He bury's some snack nearby for the youngsters to find, enhancing their foraging and sniffing abilities.
Enroll this with some roughhousing, practice ambush, and care for his vixen this father shows his young what it is to be a great dad.
*On average Wild Red Foxes live 5 years
2. Greater Flamingo
This African species of Flamingo shows us their true colors of being outstanding parents. Being as they live for about 60 years, these monogamous birds are truly committed to their mate. Helping in select a nesting spot, building the nest of mud, and taking half the incubating duties. Even after the hatch-lings are born the duties of parenthood are split evenly.
Photo by Alan J. Hendry
3. Bald Eagles
In Navajo tradition the eagle feather is represented to be a protector. As fathers and keystone species Bald Eagles are certainly protectors of their land and young. When the eagle chicks are born they cannot fly, so the parents are in charge of keeping them fed for the first 70+ days as they prepare to take flight. In the first 45 days the eagle with grow 40 x its weight as a testament to the sheer amount of food that is returned! Talk about keeping food on the table. Even as the young eagle teaches itself to hunt (a 4-12 week process) the parents continue to subsidize their diet. Thanks Dad!
*On average Eagles live about 20 years
Photo by Richard Lee
4. Arctic Wolf
Arctic wolf fathers are typically very protective and attentive to their cubs. In a pack the alpha male and alpha female are the only two to mate while the whole pack shares in raising the cubs. The alpha male dutifully takes on the job of protecting the pack from danger while hunting for the food keeping the pack well fed. Easier said then done as their diet is typically musk oxen and arctic hare. They also are found to hunt peary caribou, ptarmigan, lemmings, seals, and nesting birds.
photo by Vincent Munier
5. Emperor Penguin
When it comes to parent of the year, this dad takes the cake. After the mother penguin gives birth she is too weak to stay so the father emperor takes up the couples egg while mom travels to the sea to hunt and regain her strength. Still at the nesting site dad proceeds to hold the egg between his feet and his stomach for 2 months, a very precarious position. Barley able to move, unable to eat, and blasted by Antarctic conditions he awaits the egg to hatch and mom to return. When the young-ling final does hatch, he regurgitates one meal from whatever he can muster, with the last of his strength to keep his young fed until mom returns to take his place. Try doing this for your kids!