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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Top Three Animal Dads

Published 06/15/09
By Monica Engebretson, Senior Program Associate

In honor of Father's Day I wanted to share some stories of amazing animal fathers. There are a lot more than three amazing animal dads, but I've narrowed it down.

My first pick is the male red fox:

For the first month after the birth of his young, this dad delivers food to the mother (the vixen) every four to six hours until the pups are old enough for her to leave them and hunt for food. Once the pups emerge from the den, Dad is still there — playing with them endlessly. When it comes time to teach the pups to look for their own food, Dad takes the lead again. Fox fathers bury surplus food close to the den and disguise it with leaves and twigs helping teach the pups to sniff out food.

It's too bad on fox fur farms, fox fathers are never allowed to interact with or aid in the rearing of their young. These dads are kept in solitary confinement for most of their lives.

Oooh, dagger to the heart! Sorry, should have warned you that was coming.

Here is some good news to make up for that.

Denmark recenlty passed a bill to ban fox farming on the grounds that it is unethical — hopefully other countries will follow. You can also take heart in looking at all the retailers that have signed on to the international fur free retailer program led by Born Free USA.

Next Animal Dad: The parrot.

Like fox dads, parrot dads are heavily involved in the rearing of their young. Parrot dads begin by helping "shop for real estate," searching out the perfect nesting hole. Then the parrot dad brings food to the mother while she incubates the eggs — he regurgitates food directly into her mouth — so he even pre-digests the food for her! ... how nice. Parrot dads are very protective of their young and will defend them fircely from predators.

O.K., warning ... I'm about to tell you something sad ...

In captivity, parrot dads (and moms)routinely have their chicks taken from them so that the babies can be "hand-fed" and sold in to the pet trade. A parrot dad may become so upset about the loss of his chicks that he will fly into a rage and may injure his mate in the process. In the wild a female would be able to fly to a nearby tree and wait out the male's grieving process, but in captivity she has no way to escape.

You can help Born Free USA help parrots by taking part in our annual National Bird Day campaign.

My final Animal Dad pick: The baboon.

Until recently it was thought that baboons were deadbeat dads. Not so, it turns out. New observational studies show baboon dads know who their kids are and help them out and their involvement is beneficial — especially to their daughters. Sometimes a male will even adopt an orphaned baby and carry it around for months.

What better gift for human fathers than giving one of Born Free USA's primate adoptions. You can even select a baboon in honor of these stellar dads!

Blogging off,


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