A pair of “gay” male penguins at Berlin’s zoo have adopted an egg with the hopes of hatching, and parenting, a chick, to the delight of Germans everywhere.
As The New York Times reports, Skip and Ping are both male but are inseparable and appear to be in a mating relationship. Though they can’t reproduce as a couple, they have still shown behaviors that seem to indicate that they want to be parents: when they first arrived at Zoo Berlin, they tried to “adopt” a rock that, of course, never hatched.
Zookeepers, noticing the couple’s plight, presented the lads with an egg laid by a female in the colony. Sure enough, the two birds started showing nesting behavior typical of opposite-sex penguin partners. Zoo spokesperson Maximilian Jäger says that Skip got the hang of it right away.
“We just had to put the egg in front of one of them, and he knew just what to do. He took his beak and put the egg on his feet and then put his stomach over it, which is the normal thing penguins do.”
The story of the literal lovebirds has delighted Germans, who come to watch the two males taking care of their egg. Zoo-goer Anna Schmidt says that she came just to see the two males looking after their egg.
“They were really the thing that pushed me to come to the zoo, because I really do not come to the zoo very often,” she said.
Gay Penguins Skipper and Ping Called 'Exemplary Parents' After Adopting Abandoned Egg in Berlin Zoo https://t.co/FhjkM6XW5L— People (@people) August 14, 2019
Unfortunately for the birds, the egg may never hatch: there’s no way of knowing for certain. Zookeepers, and the birds, won’t know until September, which is hatching season for penguin chicks.
Anja Seiferth, the penguin keeper at Zoo Berlin, said she’s hoping for the best.
“I hope Ping and Skip get a little penguin baby and become the best parents you’ve ever seen,” she said.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Berlin is not the only European zoo to house same-sex pairs of penguins. There are at least three pairs of same-sex penguin couples at the London zoo, for example.
Calling same-sex partners in a penguin relationship “gay” is a bit of a stretch, however. Anthropomorphizing — that is, assigning human traits to animals — is a fool’s game. Biologist Paul Vasey explained to BBC News in 2015 that while same-sex partnerships have been observed all across the animal kingdom, there are a variety of reasons for that behavior, including trial-and-error to instilling jealousy in other potential mating partners of the opposite sex. In other words, to conclude that a pair of same-sex animals engaging in mating, pairing, and even parenting behavior is actually in a loving relationship, such as with humans, is a bit inaccurate.