Believe it or not, beaver pairs remain dearly faithful from their first mating until parted by death, which is on average a committed twenty-four years together. In the rivers, lakes and ponds of Northern North American, Europe and Asia these family oriented species form close-knit colonies in which they co-operate to create lodges. By sharing resources and lending the opposing colony a hand, branches are gnawed off trees and rocks are dragged and pushed into position to build their famous dams. Lending each other a hand really does pay off for the life of the beaver.
Beaver couples produce a litter of up to nine offspring (known as kits) and both the male and female parents work hard in the upbringing of the kits first year.
2. Barn Owls
The admirable bond between barn owls all begins with the male. He carefully works away, constructing a home either from an existing cavity or makeshift nest, and it’s this precious work he uses to entice a female to move in with him. He waits, performing a courtship ritual that involves a charming shrill whistle until successfully attracting a female who wants to share his home with him.
Once paired, the female owl lays between three and twelve eggs at a time and spends her time tending and guarding the eggs which hatch, whilst the father devotes himself to providing food to his new family. Unfortunately the hard work of the parents contributes very little to maintaining wild populations of offspring. These birds, once hatched are extremely vulnerable to predatory attacks and seldom live long enough to reproduce themselves.
3. African Wild dogs
In a world of promiscuity among the weaker and younger members of an African wild dog pack, the Alpha male and female (both leaders of the gang) always remain loyal to one another. At the start of the breeding season the pair suspends their normal wonderings and settle down in a quiet secluded spot. Often using abandoned aardvark nests, they await for the birth of their pups after a gestation period of seventy days. Here the parents remain faithful to their young, weaning them for ten weeks before moving on to the bigger grounds of Africa.
Despite their demanding ten year life at sea, albatrosses find time to engage in lifelong relationships and are thought to be one of the few pairs of animals that remain together until dying of old age. During breeding seasons males slap their beaks against other males and both sexes perform wing displays. Impressed females choose their partners according on the best displays. The female then lays a single egg, and spends almost a whole year with the hatched chick before it can fend for itself. Meanwhile the adults form a bond that continues even after the young has flown into a new independent life, binding the parents together forever.
5. Dik dik
The dik dik is the world’s smallest antelope, standing no taller than 18 inches (45cm). Being so petite it’s no wonder that this antelope has very little defence, but their monogamous pairing certainly helps. When threatened by another dik dik wanting to copulate, both the male and female emit a large cry (this is where the origin of their name derived from). This cry acts as a warning to the intruder that they are already within a breeding pair and are not interested. This usually scares off fresh male and females that desire to breed.
A single foal is produced by the female, which sets off alone after about a year to seek their own plot of land and a mate to share it with. Living space unfortunately, is becoming rarer for dik diks and young members are often being forced to wait for the death of an older individual before they can set up their own home.
The bond between swans lasts years after the birth and upbringing of their ‘ugly ducklings’, with some lasting for life. Even when the young mature, some choose to stick with their parents, forming a tight little family. Swans are extremely vocal birds during courtship, spending hours on the water singing. After a good old sing song the female (pen) sits in silence on her laid eggs whilst the male (cob) disturbs the silence with his hisses to repel nest disturbance. Once hatched the young (cygnets) are looked after by both parents, pens ferry them on their backs for months, even though the clever little ones can swim within hours after birth.
7. Silver-backed Jackals
Silver-backed jackals are another delightful animal pair that continues spending their lives together after mating. Living in pairs within a pack, these really are faithful to one other for eternity. This dedication unfortunately, comes at a cost. Males can spend hours fending off keen jackals that approach the female with negative intentions. These nocturnal jackals live in Africa, and celebrate nightfall by emitting frightening howls.
8. White Rhinos
There are no boundaries to romance in the animal kingdom. In humans, roses, musky scents and polite compliments often win a way to the girl’s heart, however with rhinos things are very different. In its place, males whisk the female away by providing a home marked not with roses but with his dung and urine. Although this sounds unpleasant, this portrays commitment to the female, alongside with displays of affection by fighting off any trespassers.
This African species often live and travel in herds of ten to fourteen members, with the dominant adult bull remaining solitary. Less time for him is spent on bonding, and more time is taken up regularly patrolling his territory and defending his land from intruding males.
9. French Angel fish
The thought of devoted fish members in the sea does not really cross your mind, but devotion between couples also flourishes under the mist of blue. French angelfish are radiant examples as unlike most fish couples that swim during spawning; these angelfish fish swim together permanently. The lasting bond between parents is not only sweet, but is crucial for protecting their eggs from the plentiful predators that roam their habitat – the beautiful shallow coral reefs of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Wolves have family values to which humans can only desire. Living in packs of six to twenty individuals (composed of one pair of adults and their offspring) they all stay together until the cubs are grown up and are ready to commence their own families. In some cases, these families are so closely linked that they form together, forming an extremely large family, where siblings and parents never leave one another.
Of course consisting of large numbers, the wolf kingdom operates on hierarchy. The parents run the show, and give short swipes to disrespectful cubs to show it’s unacceptable. Wolves thoroughly communicate their emotions amongst the pack using a wide range of growls, yelps, snarls, facial expressions and body language. Any cubs that don’t pull their weight or act rebellious are sorted out by the harsh choice from parents of either shaping up or leaving the pack.
11. Emperior Penguins
This popular black and white species is famous for its commitment and trustworthiness in returning to the same partner annually. The threats against pairs during breeding and reproduction are so intense, that emperor penguins have to form such tight pairs in order to get through the battle. It’s freezing and demanding, and the mother almost reaches the point of starvation, so commitment really is the only way to push forward.
The resources for nests are nothing but chunks of ice and snow, forcing the male to incubate their single egg for nine long weeks on his flippers. Whilst he survives on fat reserves, the female heads out to sea fishing for food to deliver to the depending father and chick. Her journey to the sea may be up to 100 miles from the breeding colony, and she almost reaches the point of starvation herself. Once the chick has hatched the mother and father take it in turns to guard their hatchling from dangerous predatory birds whilst the other searches for food. This behaviour is repeated for six months until the baby can fend for itself.
12. Wolf Eels
The fearsome looking wolf eel may not look so fearsome when you learn about their faithful lifestyles, where the bond between two eels around the age of four begins. Before laying eggs together the wolf eels spend three years together, and when ready lay eggs in a submarine nest, which is devotedly guarded by both parents. One babysitting whilst the other gathers food, taking it in turns. Newborns spend their first few months consuming plankton before graduating to the adult diet of mussels and clams, swimming freely until it’s their time to settle down with a partner. Wolf eels are not as aggressive in behaviour as their appearance suggests, only receiving their bad reputation by scuba divers that often disturb a nest full of eggs and are left snapped at by the care of the parents.
13. Sea Horses
The males can appear to get off very lightly in the process of giving birth across the whole animal kingdom, but there is just one little exception, one so sweet and charming it makes you smile. The role of male seahorses is truly an admirable one. After elaborate courtship rituals, the female deposits her eggs in a pouch in the male’s tail, where he carries them for the whole stages of development. As the foetuses mature, the bodily fluids inside the sac are gradually replaced by saltwater. Once the change is complete, the babies are expelled into the sea and left alone to completely fend for themselves. The parents once again, start a new family immediately.
14. Harlequin frogs
The key to successful long-term relationships is often mysterious, but for the harlequin frog fidelity to ones chosen partner, and the male’s active involvement in rearing the young, is imperative to the actual survival of this species of South America. The father acts as a taxi, transporting the young to water straight after hatching, providing the mother with time to recover. He then keeps a protuberant eye on them. When they are hungry, leaving them to grab food is not necessary, instead he summons the mother to deposit non-fertile eggs in the pool for them to consume. If either parent were to become lost in the process, all the tadpoles would die. The bond between mother and father is so critical to continue the existence of such a beautiful species.
Flamingos don’t take pleasure in swapping breeding partners, instead they leisurely mate again and again with the same partner. Within their pairs, they build a reliable nest, one made from wet mud clay that they pile up until it stands a couple of inches above the surface of their lagoon, forming part of the picture across the brightly coloured flamingo flocks along the shores of East Africa. During incubation the one to two eggs laid are tended by both parents for around four weeks.