Zoo’s the daddy?
Sunday 18 June 2006
London Zoo staff vote marmosets the best animal dad this Fathers’ Day
Marmosets have proved they are daddy cool at the zoo – by being voted the best animal dads by zoo staff.
More than 500 staff and volunteers at London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park were surveyed to find the best animal fathers.
The tiny South American monkeys came top of the “pops” because of the high level of paternal care they show to their babies.
Usually fathering twins – but sometimes triplets – they clean them and spend large amounts of time carrying their offspring around on their backs, only taking them over to the mother for nursing. When the babies can eat solid food, the father feeds them instead.
Marmosets tend to live in family groups and older siblings are also known to chip in and help with new infants.
The Zoological Society of London’s Curator of Mammals, Malcolm Fitzpatrick, said: “Marmosets are amazing animals that tend to live in family groups. The males are heavily involved in the rearing of infants which makes them a worthy winner.
“The future of some species, like the Geoffroy’s marmoset we have at London Zoo, is threatened in the wild from habitat destruction. ZSL is committed to the conservation of threatened species”
The pint-sized primates just managed to beat seahorses to the coveted first place though.
Male seahorses become pregnant when a female deposits her eggs into his pouch. Each pregnancy last around two to four weeks before the seahorse lays them during a contracted labour.
He will often become pregnant again almost straight away.
In third place was voted the rhea, a large ostrich-like bird from South America. Rhea dads take sole care of their young from eggs to chicks – feeding, defending and protecting them until they are old enough to survive.
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Notes to editors
Images of a marmoset carrying twins on its back, or any of the other animals mentioned, are available from the press office. Call Emma Kenly on 020 7449 6280 or email email@example.com
All staff including zoo keepers, volunteers and office staff at both London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park were asked to cast a vote for the best zoo dad.
The top seven, in order, were:
The father takes care of his babies from birth. When the marmoset is born, the father cleans it, then carries it to the mother only when it needs to be nursed. When the baby can eat solid food the father will feed it.
The male seahorse has a pouch in which the mother lays her eggs. The father then looks after the eggs for about two months, until they hatch and leave the pouch. He continues to protect the young until they are able to live on their own.
Rheas are large South American birds similar to ostriches. Rhea dads takes sole care of their young from eggs to chicks, feeding, defending and protecting them until they are old enough to survive
After mating, the male builds a nest in which each female lays her eggs
4. Oriental short-clawed otter
These small otters mate for life and produce two litters of babies each year.
Both parents share the job of looking after them; while the mother feeds them the father will bring food back for her.
5. Praying mantis
The male praying mantis often loses his life in the process of continuing the family line, having his head bitten off by the female during copulation – providing her with vital sustenance to help her produce healthy eggs.
6. Von der Decken's Hornbill
The female lays her eggs in a tree hole which is then sealed up by the male with mud and droppings that bake hard like cement.
During the incubation period and while the chicks are young, the male finds all the food and brings it back to the female, passing it through a narrow hole left for the purpose.
7. Bangaii cardinal fish
Hailing from the Indonesian Bangaii Islands, Bangaii cardinals are reef-dwelling saltwater fish as well as mouth brooders. The males carry the eggs in their mouth for 18 to 24 days before releasing 15 to 40 near a long-spined sea urchin (or anemone) which provides protection.
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide. For further information please visit www.zsl.org
0207 449 6280