Same-sex Penguin Fascinates Zookeepers Toronto
November 7, 2011 by staff
Same-sex Penguin Fascinates Zookeepers Toronto, Are Buddy and Pedro, two African penguins at the Toronto Zoo, gay? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but their keepers have noticed the two are inseparable, and perhaps most telling, they’re showing signs of mating behaviours. 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.
“They do courtship and mating behaviours that females and males would do,’’ one keeper said in an interview.
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