Episode available within Canada only.

In nature, dads often get a bad rap. There are lots of male animals that are absentee fathers, and who provide little to nothing in the way of “child care.”

But there are some unsung heroes in the animal kingdom: fathers who fly solo after moms leave them behind with the kids. Why do these devoted dads raise their young all by themselves? Scientists are just beginning to uncover the answers to this evolutionary mystery.

The male seahorse is well known for being the parent to get “pregnant,” holding the fertilized eggs in his stomach pouch while they develop. And this devoted dad isn’t alone. A distant relative, the broad-nosed pipefish also becomes a pregnant papa, carrying his brood until they hatch and swim away.

Emperor penguin fathers have incredible endurance. They suffer through some the harshest conditions on Earth while balancing a fragile egg on their feet! In the fierce winter storms of Antarctica, they brave the cold, wind and darkness to protect their precious cargo until it hatches in the spring.

Other fathers go a step further, nurturing their kids even after they’re born. The brilliant-thighed poison dart frog acts as the family minivan, packing up his tadpoles on his back to transport them to a larger pool when their own pool dries up.

Meet some of the most devoted dads in the animal kingdom
What some unusual dads taught me about fatherhood

Some of the most devoted dads in the world may not be who you’d expect. After females lay their eggs in his nest, the male emu will incubate his clutch for eight weeks while hardly eating, drinking or going to the bathroom. And once his babies hatch, his job isn’t over. He’ll care for his young for up to 18 months, protecting them and teaching them everything they need to know about emu life.

Exactly why these dads, and others like them, take on raising the kids by themselves has yet to be discovered. But perhaps it’s time we celebrate these incredible Stay-At-Home Animal Dads.

Credits (Click to expand)


Producer & Director
Ari A. Cohen

Abraham Lifshitz

Lesley Evans Ogden
Ari A. Cohen

Story Editing
Leora Eisen

Assistant Directing
Lesley Evans Ogden
Leora Eisen

Samuel Ellis
Chris Wheeler
Cristian Dimitrius
Eric Börjeson
Malcolm Ludgate
Matthew Gormley

Additional Camera
Aneesh Bose
Robin Smith
Leon Green Ekelin
Cosmo Roberto Ronçon Junior

Local Fixers
Eva Ringler
Rosana Mangione
Leon Green Ekelin

Sound Recordists
Timothy Carl Boese
Lisa Kolisnyk
Timothy Boese

Sound Designer & Mixer
Cory Rizos

Dina Cindric

Original Music
Dina Cindric
Nicolas Caloia
David Gossage
Ari A. Cohen

Alexi Farand

Online Editor
Bashar Samman

Additional Editing
Milène Ortenberg
Ari A. Cohen

Assistant Editors
Matthew Muncaster
Leah Williams-Zannis
Milène Ortenberg
Cyrielle Dumas

Title Design
Dovi Kotto

Story Consulting
Meredith Hambrock

Production Coordinators
Matthew Muncaster
Leah Williams-Zannis

Production Office
Marie-Libertad Lamarre

Production Accountant
Thomas Pietrzykowski

Thomas Pietrzykowski

Remy Khouzam


Matthew Muncaster
Lesley Evans Ogden

Stock media provided by:

Ruedi Abbühl
Meagan Abele (Project Seahorse)
Bart Lukasik
Anders Berglund
Aneesh Bose
Margaret Marchaterre & Andrew Bass, Cornell University
Andrius Pašukonis

With Special Thanks To
Julie L. Cusmariu, Jude & Samson
Aaron Ain & Trudy Cusmariu
Jacques, Leontine & Ygal Cohen
McMaster University
University of Vienna
Department für Integrative Zoologie, Universität Wien
BAT Guyane
Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Nouragues - ONF
Eva Ringler
CNRS Nouragues
Rosanna Mangione
City of Surrey
Cameron Ross
Richard Lanctot
US Fish and Wildlife Service
UIC Science
Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation
University of São Paulo
Comunicação Fundação Florestal
Intervales State Park
University of Gothenburg
Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Infrastructure
Harvard University
Eric LeMoyne
Susan Lee
Kevin Graham
Jonah Fortune

Produced by
Rotating Planet Production Company

For the CBC
General Manager, Programming
Sally Catto

Executive Director, Unscripted Content
Jennifer Dettman

Senior Director, Documentary
Sandra Kleinfeld

Senior Director of Production, Unscripted Content
Alexandra Lane

Executive in Charge of Production
Sue Dando

Wildlife Film consultant
Caroline Underwood
The Nature of Things
with David Suzuki
Produced by
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Produced in association with
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
2018 Rotating Planet Productions Inc.
All Rights Reserved

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