Mr. and Mrs. Pickles met at the Houston Zoo in 1996. This week, 90-year-old Mr. Pickles became one of the world’s oldest fathers.
While they never formalized their union before Texas authorities, they’ve been affectionately known as Mr. and Mrs. Pickles since meeting at the Houston Zoo in 1996. The couple had their first little pickle a year later.
This week, thanks to a diligent attendant, Mr. Pickles, now 90, welcomed three new hatchlings: Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño.
“It’s unlikely the eggs would have hatched on their own if the keeper hadn’t been in the right place at the right time,” Houston Zoo said in a press release announcing the birth.
For now, the little ones are being kept out of the public eye and hidden from curious paparazzi, sequestered at the zoo’s Reptile & Amphibian House until they are big enough to safely join their parents.
“It was an astounding feat,” zoo officials said of the birth, “not only because Mr. Pickles is 90 years old, but also because the critically endangered species rarely produces offspring,” McKenna Oxenden reported for the New York Times.
It’s rare that any creature, human or otherwise, fathers offspring at such an advanced age.
In India, Ramjit Raghav became the world’s oldest known human father at 94, when his first child was born. Two years later, at 96, Raghav broke his own record with the birth of a second son.
Australian Les Colley was just two months short of his 93rd birthday when together with Patty, his 38-year old wife, he welcomed his ninth child, a son they named “Oswald”, into the world.
Julio Iglesias Puga, popularly known as Papuchi (“Daddy”), father of singer Julio Iglesias and grandfather to the singers Enrique Iglesias and Julio Iglesias Jr. and socialite Chabeli Iglesias, fathered a child at 88 with Ronna Keith, 40, his wife of three years and girlfriend of nearly two decades. As founder of the Madrid Maternity Clinic and head of its sterility, infertility and family planning unit, Papuchi practiced what he preached.
Nobel Prize-winning Novelist Saul Bellow was 84 when he and his wife, Janis Freedman, 41, welcomed Bellow’s first daughter. Bellow was the father of three adult sons from previous marriages. In “Saul Bellow’s Heart: A Son’s Memoir,” the writer’s firstborn son attempts to reconcile his dad’s literary genius with Bellow’s flaws as a father.
While these much older fathers likely recognized they’d have to cherish every moment of time with children born late in their lives, a recent U.S. Census study reports more than a quarter of Americans have lost both parents and nearly 40 percent had lost their fathers.
Mr. and Mrs. Pickles will surely make the most of each day with little Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeño. We can only hope they’ll inspire onlooking humans to do the same. Houston Zoo is a terrific travel destination. The zoo is open daily from 9am-5pm. More information is available online at houstonzoo.org.