Same-Sex Penguin Couple Become Parents After Adopting Egg
An aquarium has welcomed a chick to a pair of same sex penuin parents for the first time ever.
Female penguins Electra and Viola welcomed their adopted chick at Oceanografic Aquarium, Valencia, Spain.
The pair adopted the egg from another penguin couple and incubated it themselves. So far, the gender of the chick is unknown as blood tests to determine this can’t be done until its around six weeks old.
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The unnamed new addition is one of three chicks to have been born into the colony of 25 gentoo penguins this breeding season; couples Navi and Aquela, as well as Bolo and Melibe also welcomed a chick.
Electra and Viola are an exceptional couple, according to the aquarium’s bird-keeper Carlos Barros, who explained that the female couple started to show common breeding behaviour, such as building up their own nest using stones. With that in mind, keepers decided to give them their own egg to raise.
Carlos said, ‘They put two eggs each inside obviously without knowing they were not fertile, so we put one of the eggs from a different couple into their nest so that they could take care of it.’
Electra and Viola first starting showing parenting attributes when they starting building their own nest with stones. Stones are also used in mating rituals by the males, who often gift a stone to their potential suitor, though personally I think I’d prefer a box of chocolates or something.
After watching several David Attenborough episodes, you’ll know penguin chicks are always brought up by two parents. The incubation is carried out by both the mum and the dad (or mum and mum, in this case) who take shifts to keep the egg warm. The egg is then broken on the 38th day, and the chicks stay with their parents for around 75 days.
Electra and Viola aren’t the first female same-sex couple to raise a chick. Last year, Marama and Rocky of London’s Sea Life Centre also welcomed a chick. The pair were first-time parents and staff at the aquarium say they had shown good parenting qualities over the past couple of years by building nests, just like Electra and Viola did.
According to Carlos, while monogamy is common between penguin couples in zoos and other controlled habitats, pairs often only stay faithful to one another in the wild during mating season. And I now feel like my whole life has been a lie.
Here’s hoping Electra and Viola’s love is forever.
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