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Gay Penguins Pedro and Buddy To Be Separated, Forced To Mate With Females

by David Badash on November 7, 2011

in Discrimination,International,News

Post image for Gay Penguins Pedro and Buddy To Be Separated, Forced To Mate With Females

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.

In 2009, The New Civil Rights Movement reported on the controversy surrounding “And Tango Makes Three.”

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
(416) 392-5900

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Scelerific November 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm

As a lesbian, I'm sad for the two penguins, but as a zoologist-to-be–which I am first and foremost, and rightfully so–I can understand the need to try and propagate a species in danger by whatever means necessary.

From what I understand about penguin mating, reproduction, and chick-rearing rituals, artificial insemination would be out of the question since it is generally the work of a bonded pair to raise an egg. I suppose they could take the artificially conceived egg and adopt it out to a childless couple, but it's a great deal of time, money, and effort with no guarantee of success; a zoo would be unlikely to undertake such a thing unless absolutely necessary.

Of course, there's always the chance Pedro and Buddy will refuse to mate with their newly assigned mates. That may persuade the zoo to undertake more unorthidox manners–or to simply drop the entire thing entirely. Time will tell.

coxhere November 8, 2011 at 10:37 am

We know that when an animal experiences loss, there's a greater risk of death for the lost animal's partner. The two penguins are experiencing loss as a result of being separated. It is possible that each will die from grief. As far as the Gay penguins are concerned, each has died from the other. If these zoologists are concerned about penguin propagation, they need to make the hetro penguins screw double-time. This shouldn't be very difficult because, as we all know, hetros can't think of anything but sex and breeding. Leave the Gay boys alone!

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