Two Same-Sex Penguin Couples Form During Mating Season In London Aquarium

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Two same-sex penguin couples formed during their annual mating season at the Sea Life aquarium in London.

The two female couples, Marmalade and Chickpea, and Marama and Rocky are Gentoo penguins. According to the aquarium, same-sex penguin couples are relatively common and sometimes adopt eggs that have been abandoned.

The mating ritual of penguins involves giving a pebble to the potential mate, which they can then use to build a nest for eggs.

Sea Life manager Catherine Pritchard called Gentoo penguins “one of our most loved creatures” and said that the aquarium would reopen in time for guests to see their courtship rituals. She added that “This breeding season we also have two female same-sex couples who are also going through their nesting rituals.”

The penguins are closely monitored during their mating season and the staff regularly weighs them and keeps an eye on their nesting progress. The Sea Life aquarium will reopen on Monday and guests will be able to witness the mating rituals.

Same-sex penguin couples have been observed in several penguin species, including Gentoo penguins, King penguins, Chinstrap penguins, Humboldt penguins etc. A male same-sex penguin pair Roy and Silo incubated an egg, resulting in a baby penguin named Tango. The story of the penguins inspired the children’s book And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.

Same-sex penguin couples have been observed since 1911. Explorer George Murray Levick documented same-sex behaviour and described it as “depraved”. The report was suppressed at the time and was uncovered a century later. It was published in June 2012 in the Polar Record.

A zoo in Germany attempted to separate the three same-sex penguin pairs by importing female penguins to encourage reproduction. They were unsuccessful.

Same-sex behaviour is not only observed in penguins. Same-sex sexual interaction has been observed in both zoos and in the wild in over 450 animal species.

Feature Image Credit: BBC