Two gay penguins have been given their own egg to raise so that the pair won’t be depressed and despondent when the rest of their colony’s chicks are born and they’re left out.
As CBS News reports, Sphen and Magic, two Gentoo penguins who live at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, are the toast of Sydney. They’ve been given a celebrity couple name — “Sphengic” — and they’re referred to as “the hottest couple in Australia.” They hang out together in their enclosure, go for swims together, and have even been collecting pebbles to build a nest together, as it’s nesting season and penguins. The two are exhibiting behavior evolved over millions of years, and are preparing to mind the eggs and then parent the chicks once they’re born.
Of course, if you know anything about the birds and the bees — and here, “the birds” part of that phrase is meant to be taken literally — you know that two male penguins aren’t going to produce any offspring.
However, the birds are invested in the nesting process, and if the rest of the colony’s mating couples produce healthy chicks and “Sphengic” don’t, the two animals may become depressed and feel left out. And that won’t do.
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To help things along, zookeepers at the aquarium first came up with a “dummy” egg for the lads to practice with, and they did swimmingly — no pun intended. If you watched March of the Penguins, you’ll remember that penguins have evolved a complex ritual for incubating eggs and raising chicks, requiring both members of the mating couple to do their part. Sphengic did exactly what they were supposed to do with the dummy egg — taking turns either incubating the egg or patrolling their territory to scare away predators or competing birds.
Once the lads proved that they were up to the task, keepers swapped out the decoy egg for a real egg, taken from another mating pair that had had two, and at the time of writing, the two birds are dutifully fostering their egg. In a month or so, they will be proud parents of a baby Gentoo penguin chick. Doubtless, the aquarium will put it to the people of Australia, via the internet, to come up with a name.
At this point, you may be thinking that animals can’t be “gay” in the same sense that some humans are. And while assigning human attributes to non-human animals is generally a fool’s game, there’s no denying that same-sex relationships have been observed in hundreds of non-human animal species. In fact, as reported by the Inquisitr, two male penguins in a same-sex relationship were observed “kidnapping” a chick from another mating couple at a Denmark zoo.