Gay penguin couple welcomes baby chick after hatching adopted egg
The Gentoo gay penguin couple who adopted an egg has hatched their baby chick, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium announced on Friday (October 26).
Sphen and Magic welcomed their baby, who has been temporarily called Sphengic after both of their penguin parents, into the world on October 19.
The tiny chick, whose permanent name will be decided after their gender is determined in two months’ time, weighs 91g—which is less than an average apple, or an iPhone.
Announcing the news on Facebook, the aquarium wrote that “the proud dads are doing well and are so in love with their precious bub. ❤️ ”
Their parents were given the chance to practise parenting with a dummy egg before staff decided they were ready for a real one, calling them “absolute naturals.”
The aquarium has now reported that “the loving foster parents are co-parenting exceptionally well to raise their young.”
Tish Hannan, the Penguin Department Supervisor at the institution, said in a statement: “Baby Sphengic has already stolen our hearts!
“We love watching the proud parents doting and taking turns caring for their baby chick.”
The couple’s abilities would be tested over the next few weeks, as they strive to help their as-yet-unnamed chick to survive.
“The first 20 days of a penguin chick’s life are the most vulnerable,” Hannan explained, “so it is extra important the chick is very happy, healthy and well fed by his parents.
“We can’t wait for the world to fall in love with Baby Sphengic like they did with our amazing same-sex couple, Sphen and Magic!”
After those first 20 days, the chick will remain with their dads for another two to three weeks, during which time they will continue to feed them up to 10 times per day.
After this period, they will lose their baby fluff, grow adult feathers and start learning to swim.
The chick is set for an important role at the aquarium, as it will “act as an ambassador for its generation at Sea Life Sydney, and will help educate the public on the precious species and the plight that they face in the wild.”
It was first noticed the penguins had formed a very close bond ahead of breeding season, with Sphen even gifting Magic a special stone which staff explained was “equivalent to proposing in the love language of penguins.”
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And signs that the pair wanted to start a family became clear during breeding season, when they began hoarding pebbles to build a nest.
Same-sex pairings are relatively common in penguins, with many gay penguin couples attracting a human following after their unencumbered relationships attracted attention.
In 2012, two gay Gentoo Penguins called Inca and Rayas were given their own egg to rear at Madrid’s Faunia Park after yearning to be parents for six years.
And sometimes, if you don’t allow gay penguins to adopt, they take matters into their own flippers.
Last month, a couple at Odense Zoo in Denmark kidnapped a baby chick from two straight penguins who they decided were doing a bad job.