Our first glimpse into the world of gay penguins was way back in 1998. Within the world-renowned Central Park Zoo in New York, power couple Roy and Silo had seemed rather inseparable, which zoo staff found interesting. Then, a year later, the couple were trying desperately to hatch a rock which looked similar to an egg. This got the zookeepers intrigued, and so they swapped their rock with an actual egg, which Roy and Silo successfully hatched. Their newborn was named Tango and the chick was reared into a healthy female penguin. Unfortunately, the couple didn’t last long after their story broke to international fame. Thankfully, they are all still alive and well today.
But since then, the world of gay penguins has grown. Here’s a comedic and beautiful story about Edinburgh Zoo’s gay penguins in 2012:
Oh gosh, so adorable, right? And here’s the update on the gay penguin couple from Daniel Sloss:
Well, that took an unexpected turn! But let me bring your happiness back up again with three gay penguin couples that are going strong today. Get those soppy faces ready!
Odense Zoo’s Gay Penguin Couple: Singer and Hollænderen
We’re gonna start our gay penguin couple journey with Singer and Hollænderen at Odense Zoo in Denmark. This couple made headlines last year after kidnapping another couple’s egg because it was being neglected. The story broke international headlines…
Gay penguin couple in Odense zoo 'kidnap' chick from its parents
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Gay penguins stir up drama in a Denmark zoo by stealing chick from 'neglectful' parents
Zookeepers in Denmark were left shocked by an unlikely kidnapping scenario earlier this week, with a gay penguin couple…
A spokesperson shared the gay penguin couple’s winding story with me. This is also the first time the zoo has publicly shared their nicknames. The regular zookeepers use them mostly for training purposes, but this story is hard to tell without their names.
“Our gay couple from 2018 consisted of the male penguins Singer and Hollænderen — Danish for ‘the Dutchman,’ as he came to us from a Zoo in Holland,” the Odense Zoo spokesperson said.
“Since last year they broke up, so to speak.”
Singer had instead found a new mate in another male penguin called Brille. It seems old habits don’t change because this couple stole another egg this mating season, which started in June.
“The egg came from Singer’s own offspring, a female penguin, and she gave the egg up without much fight. It later broke, unfortunately, during the hatching period, likely due to some pushing and shoving in the penguin colony, which happens from time to time.”
To bring some joy into this story, The Dutchman — aka Hollænderen — also found an egg during the mating period. The interesting part is that this egg was quite the mystery, as the zookeepers couldn’t figure out which female it came from.
“He wasn’t seen courting any females, and there weren’t any female penguins searching for a lost egg as they normally would,” the spokesperson continued.
Usually, the male and female king penguins take turns standing with the egg during the 63-day long hatching period. The Dutchman, however, went through this period all by himself. That means 63 days without usual penguin behaviour like getting in the water.
“The zookeepers had to feed him at the spot he’d chosen to hatch the egg,” the spokesperson continued. “He managed to pull through, and on the 2nd of August the egg hatched and we had our first and only king penguin chick of the year.”
But wait, there’s more!
“After a couple of days standing with the chick,” continued the spokesperson, “the Dutchman actually left it to go swimming all of a sudden, leaving the chick to a female penguin. She had shown a lot of interest in the chick, but until that time the Dutchman had fought off any attempts of anyone getting close to it.”
Following the Dutchman’s brief ‘holiday’, which lasted a few days, he tried to get the chick back. Some penguin fighting ensued.
“It didn’t work, and instead of keeping on fighting her he tried a more gentle approach. Luckily that did work. They’ve since shared the chick, looking after it, feeding it and generally making sure it got what it needed. It’s growing as it should, and even though getting there was quite the drama, we’re pretty happy that we’ve managed to get another healthy chick.”
Zoo Berlin’s Gay Penguin Couple: Skipper and Ping
Emperor Penguin gay couple Skipper and Ping are desperate to start a family. They had their first chance this year and it ended in sadness. Their egg didn’t fertilize.
The couple had moved from Hamburg’s Hagenbeck Zoo in April this year to their new home at Zoo Berlin, and since arriving they have been inseparable. This prompted the zookeepers to give them an egg during this year’s mating season.
The egg came from another pair who had a reputation for being quite neglectful to their past eggs. But yes, the ending was not a wanted one.
In saying that, a spokesperson for Zoo Berlin applauded how hard they tried.
“Since they took care of the egg so lovely, they certainly will get another chance next year,” the spokesperson said.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium’s Gay Penguin Couple: Sphen and Magic
The story of Sphen and Magic goes back to 2018, where they had developed a strong bond between each other. With all this display of loyalty and love, the zookeepers decided to give them a foster egg to fertilize. And that it did! By the end of hatching season, Sphen and Magic were able to welcome to the world their new penguin chick which the aquarium nicknamed ‘Sphengic’.
Fast forward one year and baby Sphengic is one year old and Sphen and Magic have built a new (and more lavish) nest to fertilize an egg. The zookeepers have wasted no time in fostering them another egg, this one from a couple who couldn’t care for it.
“Sphen and Magic’s partnership has remained strong all year so we had no doubt that they would couple up again this year and build an impressive nest,” said Tish Hannan, Penguin Supervisor at Sea Life Sydney.
“They have the neatest and largest nest in the colony and when we noticed that another couple were struggling to incubate two eggs at the same time, we made the decision to foster the second egg to the power couple of the colony.”
Baby Sphengic turned one on the 19th of October, and Tish agrees that she has had an excellent start to life under her parent’s care.
“She’s matured nicely but still quite unsure as to what all the adults are doing this breeding season,” Tish continued. “Sphengic may or may not have a little brother or sister in a few weeks — we’re yet to confirm if the egg is fertile.”
Visitors to Sea Life Aquarium over the next month will get to witness all the cute penguin couples incubating their eggs. Watch this space for news of whether baby Sphengic will be a big sister!