‘Incredibly caring’ gay penguin power couple welcome second chick
World-famous gay penguin couple Sphen and Magic have become dads for the second time, after hatching another chick neglected by a straight couple.
Sphen and Magic, two male gentoo penguins at the Sea Life Aquarium in Sydney, found fame in October 2018 when they hatched their first chick, after zookeepers noticed them attempting to hatch a rock and gave them a spare egg to look after.
With their parenting prowess proven, they are now the zoo’s go-to adoptive dads for eggs neglected by other penguin couples.
Their first chick Lara, nicknamed Sphengic, has now grown up and moved on to starting a family of her own, but Sphen and Magic are still as keen as ever to be part of a family and welcomed a second chick.
Gay penguin dads step in when straight couples neglect their eggs.
The zoo told the Star Observer on Monday (23 November): “If one of our pairs has too many eggs or are not good at looking after their eggs we will sometimes foster these eggs out to other pairs like Sphen and Magic. We gave Sphen and Magic an egg to incubate as they have proven to be good parents in the past.”
Both dads and the new chick are doing well.
Same-sex pairings are not uncommon among penguins. The zoo explained: “Penguins, including gentoo penguins, are among the many species in which male-male or female-female pairing occur frequently and we are fortunate to have our own male-male pair.
“Just like our other gentoo parents, Sphen and Magic are attentive and incredibly caring and we feel privileged to have such an amazing duo in our colony.”
The zoo added: “Lara is now two years old and surprising us everyday with how independent she is. Despite still being relatively young, she attempted to take part in this year’s breeding season.
“She and her partner set up a nest and carefully watched over it but unfortunately weren’t successful in hatching an offspring. We look forward to seeing how she goes next year and whether she’ll give Sphen and Magic a little grand penguin chick.”
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The pair have been inseparable for years, and zookeepers say Sphen showed his love for Magic by giving him a “special stone” which is “the equivalent to proposing in the love language of penguins”.
Same-sex pairings are common in animals, but homophobia is a human problem.
Last year, lesbian penguin parents hatched a chick at London Sea Life Aquarium.
Children’s book And Tango Makes Three, based on the real-life story of male chinstrap penguin parents at New York’s Central Park Zoo, was recently revealed to be one of the most-banned books of the decade.
While homosexuality is common in many animal species, homophobia – a noted problem among humans – is yet to be witnessed in the animal kingdom.