Two same-sex penguin partnerships were formed this nesting season in Australia.
The Melbourne Aquarium has introduced the latest same-sex Gentoo pairings, Tiger and Branston and Jones and Klaus, which will likely now become doting dads to a fostered egg. This, said lead bird keeper Tanith Davis, is not an uncommon phenomenon, according to Yahoo! Entertainment.
"Same-sex penguin pairs will court each other and incubate an egg exactly the same way as a male-female pair," she said, explaining that the aquarium often fostered eggs to male-male penguin pairs.
"As male-male pairs can't lay their own eggs, we will sometimes foster an egg to them from another pair. Sea Life Melbourne has had many same-sex couples in our breeding history, and they have been doting parents."
Gentoo penguins, which nest once a year before the start of spring, share parenting roles, according to the outlet. They build comfortable homes for their eggs with rocks they collect.
This is not the first time that same-sex penguin couples have made headlines. Over the years there have been dozens of similar reports but one of the most memorable accounts took place when two gay male African penguins at a Dutch zoo stole a heterosexual couple’s eggs in 2019, then the following year took over a lesbian duo’s nest, according to NBC News.
Zookeeper Sander Drost explained that the gay couple had been alternating sitting on the eggs to keep them warm but because they were laid by a lesbian couple, the eggs were unfertilized. Drost also stated that the fathers were rather dominant.
"Every couple has a house in the residence, but this couple has appropriated two houses," he said.
Commenting on the two incidents, Marlene Zuk, a professor of ecology, evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota, explained that "most penguin species are monogamous for life and typically breed once or twice a year."
That being said, this does not stop the two dominant gay penguins from wanting to raise a family together.
"After all, being a part of a pair and raising a chick is just deeply ingrained in being a penguin," she said.
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