Two gay male African penguins, Pedro and Buddy, are about to be separated and forced to mate with female penguins in a Toronto zoo, to help maintain the species. “They do courtship and mating behaviours that females and males would do,’’ a zoo keeper told the Toronto Star, which reports:
There are other cases of gay penguins — zoos in New York, Japan, Germany and Sea World Orlando have seen examples.
As part of an experiment a few years ago, Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park zoo, incubated an egg together and raised the chick, named Tango, after she hatched. A children’s book about them called And Tango Makes Three was a smash best seller.
But in Toronto, Buddy and Pedro’s relationship, however you describe it, is destined to come to an end soon because they have a duty. They have top-notch genes, so the zoo intends to separate them from each other and pair them with females for breeding.
Given that African penguins are endangered, the move falls within a species survival plan among zoos.
Buddy, 20, and Pedro, 10, are in Toronto as part of the popular African penguin exhibit that opened at the zoo in May. The two, bred in captivity, were part of a group of 12 penguins — six male, six female — that came to Toronto from zoos in the U.S.
Buddy and Pedro arrived from Toledo, Ohio, where they formed a connection as members of a bachelor flock.
Their relationship, referred to as “pair bonding’’ in zoo speak, continued after they arrived here, say their zoo keepers. Scientists don’t use the words gay or straight when it comes to sexual orientation in animals.
During the day all 12 penguins generally swim and frolic together in their enclosure, which includes a massive pool with underwater windows for the public to view.
But at night Buddy and Pedro pair off together. Every night.
The Huffington Post adds,
Same-sex companionship among penguins is actually quite common. In 2009, Z and Vielpunkt, two male Humboldt penguins at Germany’s Bremerhaven Zoo, became the proud parents of a healthy penguin chick hatched from an egg fertilized by another penguin couple. Another such pair at China’s Polarland Zoo was even given a wedding celebration, as The Sun is reporting.
And, as LiveScience reports, homosexuality has been documented in more than 450 species of vertebrates, “signaling that sexual preference is biologically determined in animals.”
One wonders if there aren’t medical procedures that could be used to avoid splitting up the happy couple. This is truly unacceptable.
The Toronto Zoo claims it is “Canada’s premier zoo known for its interactive education and conservation activities.” Perhaps they need a little education about keeping families together? Contact them:
2000 Meadowvale Road Toronto, Ontario M1B 5K7, Canada
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