Fish, Fangs and Fathers

by Stephen O'Rear

Emperor Penguin

Photo © de Vere

My dad keeps me warm and cozy.

Emperor penguins live in super-cold Antarctica. Dad balances the egg (and later, the chick) on top of his feet so the baby doesn’t touch the ice. Papa Penguin will stand like that for months, in a huddle with other dads, to keep his baby safe and warm.


Photo © Kilby

My dad gives me piggyback rides.

Marmosets spend all day up in the treetops. Jumping from branch to branch is hard work, so Dad carries the babies around, often two at a time, while Mom tries to rest.

Red Foxes

Photo © Leapers

My dad buries treasure in the backyard.

Once red foxes are old enough, Dad teaches them how to hunt. He hides food in holes or under piles of leaves. Then he watches as the kits (baby foxes) sniff out their supper.


Photo © Gloor

My dad protects me from monsters.

Cardinalfish eggs have an unusual home: Dad’s mouth. Most of the time, he keeps his mouth shut so hungry predators can’t see what he’s hiding. But even eggs need to breathe, so Dad opens wide for just a second to give them a splash of fresh water.

Flamingo Nest

Photo © Williams

My dad built me my own room.

Flamingoes live with thousands of their relatives. But when the time is right, Mom and Dad build a mud mountain on the shore. Each egg gets its own private nest.


Photo © Garcia Jr. Photography

My dad teaches me to play with others.

Tickle fight! Young gorillas play all kinds of games. But when the roughhousing gets too rough, Dad will stand up and roar. As the leader of the family, he makes sure everyone gets treated fairly.

Zebra Finches

Photo © Bendon

My dad sings to me.

The zebra finch dad has a special song. He’s the only one who sings it that way. As his chicks grow up, Dad teaches them the melody. Scientists can tell which finches come from the same family because they all sound like their dad.

Girl With Father

Photo ©

You may not sing like your dad or hunt like your dad, but deep down you’re learning little ways to be just like him. And that’s pretty special. Give your dad a big hug and thank him for all the ways he takes care of you.

This article first appeared in the June 2012 issue of Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Photos used under Creative Commons license.