I’m not gay, but diversity thrills me. And this story has to get the prize for heartwarming, unwittingly subversive nature moment of the year:
Berlin – Two homosexual penguins have successfully hatched an egg that was rejected by its parents and are now proudly rearing the chick, the German zoo housing the couple said on Wednesday.
“Z and Vielpunkt, both males, gladly accepted their ‘Easter present’ and began straight away with hatching the egg,” the zoo in Bremerhaven in northern Germany said.
“Since the chick arrived they are behaving in the same way as one would expect a heterosexual couple to do. Both happy fathers are now diligently handling the everyday care… of their adopted offspring,” the zoo said.
Z and Vielpunkt are part of a six-strong gay community among the zoo’s collection of endangered Humboldt penguins who rose to fame in 2005 when four Swedish females were brought in an unsuccessful attempt to “cure” them.
“Homosexuality is nothing unusual among animals,” the zoo said on Wednesday. “Sex and coupling up in our world do not necessarily have anything to do with reproduction.”
The Humboldt penguin is normally found on the coast of Chile and Peru, but numbers have dropped to between 12 000 and 20 000 as industrial fishing methods have led to dwindling stocks of the anchovies on which they feed.
(from: news24.com; photo from http://io9.com/5277663/gay-penguins-hatch-and-raise-a-penguin-baby)
I love it. As another blog put it, “Penguins, the forward-thinking socially embracing animals of tomorrow.”
Apparently, this is not by any means a first: a gay penguin couple (Roy and Silo) hatched and raised a chick at the New York zoo. Nor is it unusual amongst birds. Wikipedia tells me that around 25% of black swan pairings are homosexual, and these pairs will go as far as eggnapping eggs from female swans or forming threesomes in order to raise chicks. Mallard ducks and gulls also have homosexual relationships. I did not know this, but apparently there are hundreds of animal species that do so (including Amazon dolphins, who have been known to penetrate each other’s blowholes in the only known example of nasal sex). Fascinating stuff.