A relationship between two ‘gay’ penguins has fascinated keepers at Toronto Zoo, but the couple is to be separated and will each be paired with a female for breeding.
The two birds have shown signs of mating behaviour usually only seen between male and female birds, including preening each other and sleeping together at night.
But the blossoming romance is headed for a nasty break-up.
Buddy, 20, and Pedro, 10, are endangered African penguins and as healthy males are desperately needed in the fight to save their species, after pollution and oil spills drastically reduced their numbers in the wild.
They will be torn from each other’s arms and paired up with a female as part of the zoo’s breeding program.
The relationship caught zoo staff by surprise, with there being little doubt about the status or their union.
“It’s a complicated issue, but they seem to be in a loving relationship of some sort,” Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto Zoo board told the Toronto Star.
While scientists won’t label animals gay, same-sex relationships among penguins — and other animal species — in not uncommon.
New York’s Central Park Zoo was home to a pair of male penguins who raised a chick together, while Z and Vielpunkt, two Humboldt penguins at a German zoo, became famous for their same-sex relationship.