There are all types of different “fathers,” from biological dads to adoptive dads to foster dads to father figures. And there are also those unsung patriarchs of the animal kingdom. . .
Their Mane Man
Frazier was a 20-year-old circus lion from Mexico who had seen better days. Almost toothless, his tongue lolled out of his mouth and his skin hung on his emaciated frame. In 1970 he was donated to Lion Country Safari in California to live out his final days.
To everyone’s surprise, Frazier was “adopted” by a pride of lionesses that until that time had rejected the attention of all the parks’ male lions. Not only did these attentive females bring Frazier his food and prop him up to walk (one lioness on each side of him), they tended to his other lionly needs. Frazier sired 30 cubs during his first year at the reserve, and continued to be just as prolific the rest of his life. He passed away in 1972 due to natural causes (if you count “exhaustion” among those causes).
Proud of the Pregnancy “Pooch”
In the underwater world of the seahorse, it’s the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies. And – get this – he actually competes with other males for the honor! They stage contests of brute strength (well, as strong as an inch-long creature can be) and engage in exhibitions of tail-pulling and wrestling to impress the female. He also fills up his egg pouch with water and then expels it as forcefully as he can, trying to prove his fitness and worthiness.
Once the female selects a mate, she deposits her eggs in his pouch and leaves him to gestate for three weeks. During that time, the pregnant papa doesn’t venture far away from his nesting spot, and the only food he eats is whatever happens to float by. The female, meanwhile, is free to go off and gorge herself wherever she can find the best chow. Seahorses are monogamous, so Mama does return home each night to provide a bit of prenatal care (like “fanning” the eggs so they stay clean and get sufficient oxygen).
When the male goes into labor, the contractions usually last 72 painful hours, during which time most of the color drains from him; he turns pasty white (and there is no starfish nearby coaching him to use his patterned breathing). After he finally expels the babies, this glutton for punishment shows off his pouch and begs the female to impregnate him once more.
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