Penguins in Love – Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name

Squawk & Milou, NY Central Park Zoo male penguins who began courting behavior in 2004

This story is just so fascinating. I did not know that this kind of behavior has been seen before in other zoos. If only we could learn the same kind of lessons.

Another pair, male chinstrap penguins named Roy and Silo, refused the companionship of female penguins but seemed determined to become penguin parents anyway.  The New York Times reported:

At one time, the two seemed so desperate to incubate an egg together that they put a rock in their nest and sat on it, keeping it warm in the folds of their abdomens, said their chief keeper, Rob Gramzay. Finally, he gave them a fertile egg that needed care to hatch. Things went perfectly. Roy and Silo sat on it for the typical 34 days until a chick, Tango, was born. For the next two and a half months they raised Tango, keeping her warm and feeding her food from their beaks until she could go out into the world on her own. Mr. Gramzay is full of praise for them.

”They did a great job,” he said. He was standing inside the glassed-in penguin exhibit, where Roy and Silo had just finished lunch. Penguins usually like a swim after they eat, and Silo was in the water. Roy had finished his dip and was up on the beach.

Who's the daddy? The segregated penguin couple, right, are seen here in their own enclosure quarrelling with another male over stolen eggs

And, I love this story from Polar Land in Harbin, Northern China where a keeper reported that two 3-year-old males had turned out to be the best parents in the entire zoo.

A pair of gay penguins thrown out of their zoo colony for repeatedly stealing eggs have been given some of their own to look after following a protest by animal rights groups.

Last month the birds were segregated after they were caught  placing stones at the feet of parents before waddling away with their eggs. But angry visitors to Polar Land in Harbin, northern China, complained it wasn’t fair to stop the couple from becoming surrogate fathers and urged zoo bosses to give them a chance.

In response, zookeepers gave the pair two eggs laid by an inexperienced first-time mother. ‘We decided to give them two eggs from another couple whose hatching ability had been poor and they’ve turned out to be the best parents in the whole zoo,’ said one of the keepers.

‘It’s very encouraging and if this works out well we will try to arrange for them to become real parents themselves with artificial insemination.’

Wildlife experts at the park explain that despite being gay the three-year-old male birds are still driven by an urge to be fathers. ‘One of the responsibilities of being a male adult is looking after the eggs. Despite the fact that they can’t have eggs naturally, it does not take away their biological drive to be a parent,’ said one.

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