A same-sex penguin couple at London’s Sea Life Centre have welcomed a baby chick into the world after their first egg successfully hatched.
The female couple, Marama and Rocky, have been together for five years, and were given an egg to care for after they proved to staff they would make good parents.
Staff gave the pair an egg from another mother, as a way to relieve the pressure on her to raise two chicks. Though the new baby penguin is yet to named, it is the latest in a number of successful adoptions by same-sex animal couples.
General manager at Sea Life, Graham McGrath, told MailOnline:
Marama and Rocky have taken to becoming parents like ducks to water – or should I say penguins.
Caring for a newborn is tough for anyone, from the sleepless nights to the constant feeding, yet this wonderful pair of penguin parents are completely unflappable and seem to be taking it all in their stride.
Marama and Rocky are first-time parents, though staff at the aquarium say they have shown good parenting qualities over the past couple of years, by building the best nests in the colony.
The couple also have a very strong bond with each other, regularly bowing to each other and taking it in turns to look after their nest.
— SEA LIFE London (@london_aquarium) July 3, 2019
According to staff, Marama is the older of the pair, and is more protective of the young chick. While Rocky is more ‘free-spirited and inquisitive’, and is keen to teach the chick everything there is to know about penguin life.
Sea Life isn’t the only animal centre to celebrate same-sex couples in the animal world. This week, London Zoo is hosting a party for its gay penguins on the same day as the city’s Pride Parade.
Zookeepers have so far decked out the penguin area of the zoo with banners, which read: ‘Some penguins are gay, get over it’, which is a nod towards the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall’s Get Over It campaign.
In a statement, the zoo said:
Ronnie and Reggie got together in 2014, and famously adopted an egg that was abandoned by another couple a year later.
The pair shared parenting duties of their chick, Kyton, until he fledged the nest. They remain as strong as ever and are often found snuggled up in their nest box together.
The duo share their home with 91 other penguins, including fellow same-sex couples Nadja and Zimmer, and Dev and Martin.
As part of the celebrations and Pride-themed talks, visitors will be able to learn about mating and gender in the animal kingdom, how common same-sex pairings are, and take part in Rainbow Families – a storytelling show about ‘being who you are, and loving who you want.’
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.