Friday, June 18, 2010

Gorillas make the best dads, Bristol Zoo poll shows

Gorillas make the best animal dads, according to the results of a poll run by Bristol Zoo Gardens.

Photo credit: Peter Budd

The Zoo ran the survey on its new website, asking visitors to choose between six animals the Zoo staff nominated for their good parental behavior.

The choices were: western lowland gorilla, cassowary, meerkat, posion dart frog, Malawi cichlid or Geoffroy’s marmoset.

Jock, Bristol Zoo’s impressive silverback gorilla, won the poll with 30 per cent of the votes, followed by the zoo’s male Geoffroy’s marmoset, who took 18 per cent of votes. In joint third place were the alpha male in the Zoo’s meerkat family and the male cassowary, which each took 16 per cent of the votes.

Jock lives on Gorilla Island with two female gorillas, Salome and Romina, and has fathered two youngsters: Namoki and Komale. He has recently also taken Kera under his wing – a young orphan gorilla that joined Bristol Zoo’s gorilla family almost two years ago.

John Partridge, Senior Curator of Animals at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “Jock is probably the most well-known animal ‘dad’ we have here at Bristol Zoo. Gorillas live in structured family groups usually dominated by a single, mature male gorilla that forms strong bonds with his mates. Gorilla dads play an important role in protecting their families, particularly their young.”

He added: “Jock does a great job of looking after his family, and, despite his impressive size, he is actually quite a softie at heart - we often see him playing with and tickling the youngsters - it’s lovely to watch. Importantly though, he also does a great job of keeping the three boisterous young gorillas in line!”

Unlike Jock, many male animals raise their young almost single handedly, such as the Geoffroy’s marmoset, which cares for his babies (usually twins) from birth – cleaning them when they are born and carrying both twins on his back. The babies are completely dependent for the first two weeks and the father only carries them to the mother when they need to be nursed. When the babies are old enough to eat solid food, the father will feed them.

Male cassowaries are also known for their outstanding parenting skills, taking great care to incubate three to five eggs in a clutch, for around 50 days until the eggs hatch. Once hatched, the male will rear the tiny chicks single handedly for nine months, protecting them from predators and teaching them to find food on their own, until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

If your Dad is as great as Jock the gorilla, why not buy him a gorilla adoption from Bristol Zoo as the perfect last-minute Father’s Day gift? Or, treat your Dad to a trip to Bristol Zoo for a great family day out.

For more details about visiting Bristol Zoo Gardens or its animal adoption packages, visit the website at  or phone 0117 974 7300.

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