Aquarium hosts livestream of gay penguin couple who have fans ‘around the world’
Sydney Sea Life Aquarium hosted a livestream to celebrate World Penguin Day, April 25, while the attraction is closed during the coronavirus pandemic, and it starred the world’s most famous gay penguin couple.
Sphen and Magic, two male gentoo penguins at the Sydney aquarium, found fame in October 2018 when they hatched their first chick, nicknamed Sphengic by fans.
Tish Hannan, the aquarium’s penguin department supervisor, told People: “Whether in attraction or via social media, we’re constantly inundated with questions about the Sphengic family, so we’re very excited to take Sphengic fans from all around the world behind the scenes.”
Penguin keeper Keira retold the love story of the gay penguin couple, for the few people who hadn’t heard of them.
She said in the World Penguin Day livestream: “Magic and Sphen became a bit of a viral sensation back in 2018.
“They paired up in that breeding season and were showing great commitment to building a nest.
“Gentoo penguins make their nests out of pebbles, and we were consistently seeing Magic and Sphen bringing each other lots and lots of pebbles. So they ended up with the biggest nest in the whole exhibit.
“Gentoo penguins during their breeding season actually lay two eggs, but they won’t always necessarily have the resources to raise two chicks.
“We had one pair who were only choosing to incubate one of their eggs, so we did end up taking the one they were ignoring away from them, and we gave it to Magic and Sphen.”
Sphen and Magic were overjoyed that they had their own egg, and eventually became great parents.
“Magic and Sphen would not usually have an egg of their own because they are both boys,” Keira continued. “So it was really special for us when they started incubating it so naturally.
“Because they share the incubating and chick-raising duties evenly, it is possible to have a male-male pair or even a female-female pair hatch and raise a chick successfully. And Magic and Sphen did just that.”
Their baby chick was born on October 19, 2018, weighing just 91 grams, and was the first-ever Gentoo chick born at the aquarium.
While the media gave her the nickname “Sphengic”, Keira set the record straight.
Sphengic is the gay penguins’ couple name, and their chick is actually called Lara. According to the penguin keeper, Lara has grown up to be “a very independent girl who likes to do her own thing”.
She added: “Lots of people are really attached to Magic and Sphen’s story, and we really appreciate all the love that they get.”