A pair of gay penguins has been stealing eggs from straight couples in an attempt to become ‘fathers’.
The three-year-old male penguins who are kept in Polar Land in Harbin, north-east China attempted to conceal their theft by placing stones at the feet of the parents before waddling away with their eggs.
The deception however was noticed by the other penguins and the couple were soon ostracised from the group.
Keepers have decided to segregate the pair during hatching season to avoid disrupting the rest of the community.
Explaining the urge of the penguins to be fathers, a keeper from the zoo told the Austrian Times:
“One of the responsibilities of being a male adult is looking after the eggs. Despite this being a biological impossibility for this couple, the natural desire is still there.
“It’s not discrimination. We have to fence them separately, otherwise the whole group will be disturbed during hatching time,” he added.
Whilst examples of homosexuality in animals exist in many species, it is stories of penguins that have attracted the most attention.
In Germany, a zoo provoked anger from gay-rights groups when it attempted to mate a group of male penguins with Swedish female birds who were brought in especially to ‘seduce’ them.
The attempt failed however as the penguins refused to be ‘turned’, showing little interest in their would-be mates.
The children’s book And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, published in 2005, tells the true story of penguins Roy and Silo, who formed a couple in New York’s Central Park Zoo.
They attempted to hatch a rock, which was replaced by a rejected egg from a mixed gender couple by zoo keepers. They then adopted the baby penguin Tango as their own.
Several libraries stocking the book received complaints from people accusing the book of promoting homosexuality and being ‘anti-family’ as well as unsuitable for its age group.
It has attracted great controversy in US states with parents in Illinois and Missouri requesting the book be placed in a restricted or non-fiction section of the library.
“The complaints are that young children will believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle that is acceptable.
“The people complaining, of course, don’t agree with that,” said Judith Krug, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
The number of reported library complaints about And Tango Makes Three dropped from 546 in 2006 to 420 in 2007.