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Gay penguin couple’s baby assigned gender

Sofia Lotto Persio January 22, 2019
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Gay penguin couple Sphen and Magic pictured with their chick Sphengic.

The happy family, Sphengic is all grown up now. (Sea Life Sydney/Facebook)

The gay penguin couple at Australia’s Sea Life Sydney Aquarium are the proud fathers of a female chick.

The big announcement was made on January 18 via a press release and on social media.

“After months of waiting— and regular questioning from the public—we’re so excited to finally have a confirmation that Baby Sphengic is a little girl!” said Sea Life Sydney Aquarium Penguin Department Supervisor Tish Hannan.

Baby Sphengic hatched from the adopted egg her Gentoo penguin parents cared for on October 19.

Sphengic pictured with the gay penguin parents after whom she's named.
A little throwback of baby Sphengic and her gay penguin dads. (Sea Life Sydney Aquarium/Facebook)

Sphegic had not been assigned a gender at birth because the animals’ reproductive organs are internal, and the biological sex can only be known via a blood test once the chick reaches maturity.

At three months old Sphengic is “fully fledged” and “ready to go out in the world,” Hannan said.

She continued: “We’ve started to see her personality shine in the last few weeks, and can confirm she is every bit the diva—or QWEEN—we would only expect her to be.”

“Whilst Baby Sphengic is a female on paper, that’s where the role ends.”

— Tish Hannan

The expert said knowing which gender marker to assign the chick is important in terms of population control, but in the penguin world there are no such thing as defined gender roles, as exemplified by her gay penguin parents.

“As penguin parents share equal responsibility of raising young, building and maintaining the nest, gender roles aren’t defined in penguins. So whilst Baby Sphengic is a female on paper, that’s where the role ends. She’ll grow up to play both mummy and daddy one day—just like Sphen and Magic,” Hannan said.

Sphengic, provisionally named after the gay penguin parents Sphen and Magic, is now expected to be given a new name, which the aquarium promised to reveal “as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, Sphengic will continue to learn how to be independent. After growing her first-ever waterproof plumage, she began learning to swim with the help of her loving gay penguin parents.

According to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium Facebook page, she has now perfected the art of diving and swimming and the next step in her development is to learn how to feed under water.

Gay penguin couple’s baby Sphengic has big future ahead

Sphengic’s unique position—her egg was the first to hatch among the whole Gentoo penguin colony—has already put her on the path to greatness.

The aquarium posted on Facebook a throwback photo of the gay penguin fathers and their chick on January 19 to mark Penguin Awareness Day and explained: “We love that the world has fallen in love with these guys as it will bring more awareness to all the threats that their wild counterparts face, like global warming and plastic pollution.

“It is for this reason that little Baby Sphengic will serve as an amazing ambassador for her species, and guests to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium can be educated on what they can do to help.”

Related topics: Animals, Australia, gay animals, gay parents, Gentoo penguins, Magic, same sex parents, Sphengic

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