Two gay penguins become dads
Compiled by Andrew Millichamp
Two homosexual emperor penguins at the Odense Zoo in Denmark are dads after hatching an abandoned egg.
A few years ago the keepers at the Odense Zoo noticed the two male penguins had become a couple.
The penguins have tried to become parents before, by disturbing other pairs and trying to steal their eggs.
“[It’s] not too odd, penguins and swans in the wild do the same thing,” Nina Christensen, a zoologist at Odense Zoo, told the Toronto Star.
The two penguins would also try to incubate dead herring, much as they would an egg.
Both male and female penguins incubate an egg by balancing it on their feet within a protective brood pouch.
“The keepers realized they seriously wanted to stay with an egg,” said Christensen.
The two penguins got their chance under unusual circumstances.
A female penguin at the zoo had laid two eggs with two different fathers during the breeding period, something very rare for emperor penguins, and had abandoned both eggs, reports the Copenhagen Post.
“It’s very rare that female emperor penguins lay two eggs over one breeding season,” Christensen said. “Normally, they lay two eggs over three seasons.”
The staff at the zoo felt they had the obvious solution.
“Now we have an extra egg and this pair that have been standing with fishes,” said Christensen.
Zoo caretakers said they first tested the parenting habits of the two by giving them a fake egg before replacing it with the real one, Ice News reported.
The penguins went on to hatch the egg and the two penguins are said to be taking care of the baby.
In emperor penguin society in the wild, the female would leave the egg to the male to go in search of food, as was made famous in March of the Penguins.
The male would then go without eating for up to two months, according to National Geographic.
When the female returns with food for the newly hatched chick, the male would then leave to search for food himself.
The solitary male that the female abandoned with the first egg is raising it alone.
This is possible only because of the zoo staff feeding the male.
The Toronto Zoo had a pair of gay penguins last year but they have since split up.