Award-Winning Animal Dads


Animal fathers can play a crucial role in rearing offspring. Learn more about gold-medal dads in the sea, sky and on land. 

In the Ocean: Weedy Sea Dragon

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Male weedy sea dragons – like the leafy variety and sea horse species – carry the fertilized eggs on their underbelly. These pink, pearly-looking eggs are deposited by the female during mating. Male weedy sea dragons incubate the eggs and carry them for about 4-6 weeks until they hatch.

Photo Credit: Georgia Aquarium

In the Sky: Great Horned Owl

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This owl species pairs for a breeding season, and Great Horned Owl dads play a critical role in feeding the chicks. Just before springtime, the female incubates the eggs in the nest while the father goes in search of prey (such as squirrels, rats and mice). Once the chicks hatch, there’s more hungry birds – for several months, Great Horned owl dads are responsible for feeding the entire family.

Photo Credit: Jodi Kendall

On Land: Greater Rhea

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This ostrich cousin might have polygamous males, but Greater Rhea fathers are hands-on. They build a nest during breeding season and court females to their chambers to deposit fertilized eggs. For the next six weeks, a Greater Rhea dad will work tirelessly to incubate the 25-50 eggs in the nest, with little food to sustain him. When the chicks hatch, he will be a protective father, aggressively defending his offspring from potential predators that near the nest.

Photo Credit: Jodi Kendall

Discover more about how fathers play a role in the diverse animal kingdom by checking out this Nat Geo photo gallery, and download an image for your dad’s desktop.