A pair of gay penguins proved they are excellent parents when looking after a dummy egg so the aquarium decided to give the couple a real egg of their very own.
Sphen and Magic are a pair of Gentoo penguins at an aquarium in Sydney who staff noticed had become ‘inseparable’ earlier this year.
As the penguins approached breeding season, the couple began collecting pebbles to build a nest. They even made their commitment to each other official when Sphen gave Magic a ‘special stone’, which staff at the zoo said was ‘the equivalent of proposing’.
Check out the happy couple:
Meet Sydney's hottest couple -Sphen and Magic! Collectively known as Sphengic, this Gentoo couple have developed a strong bond and become inseparable this breeding season, and are constantly seen waddling around and going for swims together in the Penguin Expedition. Read the full story here https://goo.gl/GPQwKG
Posted by SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium on Thursday, 11 October 2018
What a Magic-al moment. I bet there’s a few humans out there who wish they could propose with a special rock instead of an expensive ring.
The pair built a bigger nest than any of the other penguin couples in the aquarium and were given a dummy egg to test their parenting skills.
Speaking to ABC, Tish Hannan, the supervisor of the aquarium’s penguin department, told the penguins’ story and deemed Sphen and Magic model parents:
We’d go over there and Magic and Spehn would be bowing to each other. Bowing is a gentoo way of saying they love each other, which is super cute.
They were absolute naturals and displayed great excitement caring for their egg. They immediately knew exactly what it was and started incubating it and we’re really, really happy.
The penguins, who were given the couple name ‘Sphengic’ by the aquarium, were rewarded with their own egg which they have been taking good care of since.
They are the first same-sex penguins in Australia to be given a foster egg, they look set to represent a high standard for the other penguin couples out there!
Tish explained Gentoo penguins equally split parental responsibilities between males and females, meaning it makes no difference to the egg’s care that the couple are the same sex.
The eggs take around 33 to 36 days to hatch, during which time the parents take turns incubating and looking after the egg.
We’re not going to need to step in just because they’re males.
We might step in if it turns out that they’re not good parents because of who they are as individuals, but for all the signs we’re seeing at the moment they’re going to be amazing.
The supervisor added Gentoo penguins are monogamous, hopefully meaning Sphengic will stay together through breeding seasons.
Gentoos are monogamous.
So if they have a successful breeding season and raise a chick, next year they’re very likely to get back together again because they know that worked for them.
The aquarium shared more about the couple’s story on their website, writing:
Sphen and Magic began developing a strong bond and became inseparable before breeding season, and are constantly seen waddling around and going for swims together in the Penguin Expedition.
Whilst Sphen is older and is excellent at incubating, Magic is younger and still mastering his skill. The pair make a great team, and there are often days where the egg can not be seen (which is really good for penguin breeding!).
We are hoping the Gentoo Penguin breeding program will see first successful year of penguin breeding with aims to become amongst the most successful in the world.
I’m sure Sphen and Magic will make great parents!
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.