Gay Penguins - More Common Than You Think


By, Lily Light

Did you know penguins, the flightless aquatic birds, are known for practicing same-sex relationships? Even though penguins in same-sex partnerships cannot produce biological offspring, their parenting instincts are still strong. According to a zookeeper at Polar Land, an Arctic-themed aquarium in China, "One of the responsibilities of being a male adult is looking after the eggs. Despite this being a biological impossibility for this couple, the natural desire is still there.” Interestingly, desperate couples have attempted to hatch rocks and even steal eggs from other penguin couples. Same-sex penguin couples are often ostracized by the rest of the penguin community for this behavior.
In France, researchers from the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology observed that 28.3% of penguins in one Antarctic colony flirted with members of the same sex. However, only two pairs of penguins from the colony entered into a long-term relationship.    
Roy and Silo, a pair of famous chinstrap penguins that live in New York City’s Central Park Zoo, are a beautiful example of a same-sex penguin couple who successfully hatched and raised a chick. Zookeepers first noticed that the penguins were engaging in mating rituals, but were unable to conceive themselves. They were observed attempting to hatch a rock when zookeepers gave them a second egg from a different penguin couple.  Roy and Silo successfully incubated and hatched a healthy female chick named Tango, who eventually paired with another female penguin named Tanuzi. Props to Tango for carrying on the family tradition!

Lily Light