PHOTO OF THE DAY: Brevard Zoo Celebrates Their Animal Dads in Honor of Father’s Day
By Brevard Zoo // June 19, 2022
brevard zoo is wishing all the dads out there, both human and animal, a very happy Father’s Day
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there, including Gomez the wrinkled hornbill. Our animal fathers may not tell dad jokes, but we think they’re pretty awesome anyways.
This Father’s Day, we wanted to give you a look at some of our favorite animal dads within the Zoo.
■ Ajabu the Klipspringer
This klipspringer dad is 7 years old and has lived at the Zoo since 2015. “When his calves are born, Ajabu stands guard outside of the stalls while mom and baby bond for the first few weeks,” said Kim Castrucci, one of the Zoo’s Animal Curators. “He can often be seen running and sparring with his offspring, too!”
■ Cricket the Cotton-Top Tamarin
Our animal care staff note that 21-year-old Cricket is an amazing dad. Cricket has sired a few offspring in his life and is almost indistinguishable from his mate when the babies are small, as he carries them around on his back just as much as mom!
■ Gomez the Wrinkled Hornbill
Twenty-nine-year-old Gomez has been with his mate, Morticia, since 1993. On top of being playfully called “the best animal husband of the Zoo,” Gomez is an exemplary father. He has sired a couple handfuls of offspring over the years, some of which have offspring of their own now.
When Morticia is nesting, she seals herself off into a nest box for a few months to lay eggs and raise the chicks. During that time, Gomez feeds her and the baby (or babies) by passing them food through a tiny slit. Talk about a dedicated dad!
■ Meru the North Sulawesi Babirusa
Meru is one of our newest Zoo dads, having sired a pair of offspring born just last month! The 6-year-old babirusa also fathered 3-year-old Java, who now lives at another Zoo. Although their species is typically solitary, adult babirusas can be housed together if the “chemistry” is right.
Fortunately, Meru was instantly enamored with his offspring Java, and the two lived together for some time before Java’s move. During their time together, the pair was observed sniffing, grooming, and even cuddling! What a doting father.
■ Rafiki the Masai Giraffe
Arguably our most “famous” Zoo dad, 23-year-old giraffe Rafiki has fathered over a dozen offspring at our Zoo! If you’ve met a few members of our current Tower, Aiden (2), Sprinkle (4), Floyd (5), Greg (6) or Mapenzi (2), you’ve met one of Rafiki’s offspring. Other giraffes that he has sired have moved on to other facilities, some even having babies of their own. In fact, Rafiki has a great-grandchild!
■ Shooter the Black-Handed Spider Monkey
Twenty-six-year-old spider monkey Shooter is our resident dad in Rainforest Revealed. He has sired several offspring over the years, including current troop members Prim (7), Olive (2), Daisy (4), Blue Steel (1), and our two-month-old baby that resembles Batman.
While he is an excellent biological father, it’s his relationship with his “adopted” offspring that makes our hearts melt. When spider monkey Mateo was found confiscated at the United States-Mexico border, we took him in with the hopes of integrating him into our troop.
This is not an easy task as spider monkeys are a hierarchical species, but we hoped that one of our alpha females might take Mateo in as their own. To our surprise, it was Shooter who took Mateo under his wing and integrated him into the troop. When another confiscated spider monkey, J, came to us needing help, we knew just the spider monkey dad to help!
We’re wishing all the dads out there, both human and animal, a very happy Father’s Day! We hope you swing by the Zoo soon to see if you can spot any of our animal dads in action.