Wed, Aug 08, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Best dads of the animal kingdom

A male seahorse gives birth to the babies from his brood pouch.

Photo: Screen grab from YouTube

Today is August 8th — Father’s Day in Taiwan. August 8 was chosen for Father’s Day because the pronunciation of “eight-eight” in Mandarin Chinese is “ba-ba,” a homonym of “papa.” On Father’s Day, people take the opportunity to express their gratitude for their father’s hard work. The animal kingdom has its own stand-out dads, too.

For many animals, childbearing and rearing are left to the females — for some species, the males even disappear soon after mating. But there are exceptions, such as the seahorses that wear the twin hats of both the father and mother, and emperor penguins that share responsibility for childcare.

The reproduction of seahorses is particularly striking because the seahorses are “borne” by the males — female seahorses leave their unfertilized eggs in special pouches on the males . After two to three weeks of “pregnancy,” the males give birth to baby seahorses that hatch and grow in the pouches. The number of babies pushed out can reach more than a thousand. Seahorses are ovoviviparous fish.

To hatch the egg, emperor penguins have to endure sub-zero temperatures, during which time they must also fast. From May to June each year, the emperor penguin mother will lay an egg — only one at a time. By this time the mother’s nutritional reserves are exhausted and she has to go back to the sea for food. The father balances the egg on the top of his feet, incubating the egg in his brood pouch, keeping it at a comfortable temperature of 36 degrees Celsius in the freezing environment, with temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius. During the incubation period which lasts for about 65 consecutive days, the males do not eat, spending most time in sleep, surviving on the fat stored in their bodies.


1. seahorse n.

海馬 (hai2 ma3)

2. emperor penguin phr.

皇帝企鵝 (huang2 di4 qi1 e2)

3. pouch n.

育兒袋 (yu4 er2 dai4)

4. hatch v.

孵化 (fu1 hua4)

5. fast v.

禁食 (jin4 shi2)

6. regurgitate v.

反芻 (fan3 chu2)

The mother returns after feeding in the sea for about two months. She can find her own partner among the hundreds of new dads by recognizing his vocal call, and feeds the chick by regurgitating the food that she has stored in her stomach. Then it is the father’s turn to leave and feed himself in the sea.

(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)







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