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Top 10 Amazing Animal Parents

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nick Roffey

Script written by Nick Roffey

Parents: can’t live without them . . . and can’t live without them. From seahorses, to dart frogs, to flamingos, these incredible creatures are ride or die. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Amazing Animal Parents.


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Script written by Nick Roffey

Top 10 Amazing Animal Parents

Parents: can’t live without them . . . and can’t live without them. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Animal Parents.

For this list, we're looking at the most dedicated, hard-working, and self-sacrificing parents in the animal kingdom.

#10: Seahorses

For many fish species, fatherhood is a matter of love ‘em and leave ‘em. But the male seahorse takes on a much more involved role. After an intimate “predawn dance” with his sweetheart, the male’s brood pouch gapes open, allowing the female to slide in her ovipositor, and disgorge thousands of eggs. So romantic. Now pregnant, the male carries the eggs for two to four weeks. Once they hatch, the littluns are on their own. But hats off to seahorse dads for showing up the others in at least one department.

#9: Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs

They may be teeny tiny, but strawberry poison dart frogs are power parents - taking on different but complementary roles. It’s up to the father frog to guard the nest, and urinate on the eggs to keep them moist . . . hopefully not something brought up at future birthdays. When the eggs hatch, mother steps in. As everyone knows, sometimes, kids fight, and eat each other. To prevent that, she carries each tadpole on her back up a tree to water, and every day for almost two months feeds them her own unfertilized eggs, while her partner keeps a sharp lookout. Now that’s love.

#8: Galápagos Sea Lions

It takes a village to raise a child. Or sometimes a harem. Living in colonies of one bull and up to 25 cows, Galápagos sea lion mothers work together to give each other much needed me- and meal-time. The mothers nurse their pups for around eleven months, and nurture them for a relatively protracted period of up to three years. Curious and playful, the puppies take a lot of looking after. Fortunately, finding a babysitter is no problem. When a mother feels peckish, another female watches over the mischief-makers, making sure they stay out of trouble.

#7: Flamingoes

Flamingo parents work as a team. Both males and females build the nest and take turns sitting on the egg while the other pops out for snacks. Once the egg hatches, the parents feed the chick by regurgitating a kind of thick red “milk” secreted by glands in their digestive tracts. . . . Delicious! The parents keep a watchful eye on their chick for the first few weeks, until it’s able to leave the nest and make some friends; but both continue to supervise and feed their little one for two to three months.

#6: Polar Bears

Father polar bears are all enthusiasm when it comes to fighting off the competition. But after a busy one-week stand, the mother-to-be is on her own. Before denning down, she has to catch enough seals to double her own weight, because when the litter is born, she’ll remain in the den nursing for several months - fasting until the cubs are ready for the long trek to the sea. After having not eaten for the better part of a year, she then has to hunt down enough food to feed herself and her young. Affectionate and fiercely protective, mother polar bears will continue to take care of the cubs for about two years.

#5: Octopuses

Mother octopuses lay tens of thousands of eggs at a time. That’s a lot of responsibility. But an octopus mom is a zealous parent, cleaning the eggs with currents of air, and protecting them from hungry predators. This keeps her so busy there isn’t a lot of time to eat - and once the eggs hatch, she soon dies. Meanwhile, the father has already died. Aaand most of their young die. Yaay, nature . . . But a few do survive, and it’s thanks to self-sacrifice that the species lives on.

#4: Wolves

Wolf families stick together. A pack consists of parents who mate for life and their children, who are raised by both the mother and father, as well as older siblings. In some cases, wolves will even adopt orphaned pups. For the first few weeks, mothers remain in the den, nursing the newborns, who are born blind and deaf, while father wolf stands guard and brings home the bacon. Or, the ungulates, in this case. When the pups leave the den, the whole pack has a hand in caring for and training them, making wolf families one of the tightest in the animal kingdom.

#3: Elephants

Think nine months is a long time to be pregnant? Imagine carrying that bump around for almost two years. Asian elephants are pregnant for on average twenty months, and African elephants for twenty-one and a half. The expectant mothers then have to pop out 260 pounds of new elephant. The rest of the herd gather around, greeting the newest member with their trunks. The new moms are attentive and loving, and as elephants live in matrilineal groups of grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and daughters, everyone pitches in and dotes on the calf until it’s big and strong like mom.

#2: Emperor Penguins

Parenting requires fortitude. Especially when you live in the coldest and windiest neighborhood in the world. To pull this feat off, both Emperor Penguin parents go to extraordinary lengths. While the father incubates the egg for two months in the freezing Antarctic winter, the mother returns to the sea to feed. The pressure is on, because she also has to return with enough for her chick. In case of a long wait, the father produces a nutritious “crop milk” to tide the young one over. Once the starving dad has ducked out to eat his fill, both take turns keeping the hatchling warm, until it’s old enough to join the colony’s penguin crèche.

Before we reveal the identity of our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:


Wolf Spiders


#1: Orangutans

Orangutan moms are among the most devoted parents in the animal kingdom. Since orangutan dads are the solitary, hitting and quitting it kind, it’s up to mama ape to raise their newborn. These single mothers look after their children for between eight to ten years, carrying them on their belly for the first four months, and nursing for about four years - but sometimes up to seven or even eight. There’s a strong bond between mother and child, and when her babe reaches two, they’ll travel through the jungle together holding hands - keeping close until the child is ready to strike out on its own.


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