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31 Jan, 2022 11:14

Gay penguins become foster parents

A same-sex couple of Humboldt penguins are now raising a baby chick, whom they helped incubate
Gay penguins become foster parents

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s colony of Humboldt penguins has grown to 28 on January 1. The newcomer chick stands out for being the first one at the Syracuse, New York conservation facility to be brought to hatching by a same-sex pair, the zoo reported.

Humboldt penguins may accidentally damage their eggs during incubation. Keepers at breeding facilities, like the one at Rosamond Gifford Zoo, may swap a fertilized egg laid by high-risk parents for a dummy and entrust the real deal to a more experienced and careful foster couple.

During this breeding season, they did so with a freshly-bonded pair of male birds named Elmer and Lima. Interestingly, Elmer received his name after the brand of glue, which keepers used to fix the shell of his egg, which got damaged by his parents. In mid-December, the egg was placed in the nest they built after the couple demonstrated that they could take care of a dummy first.

Despite being inexperienced, the two birds did a stellar job bringing their charge to hatching, Director Ted Fox said.

The baby penguin “continues to be brooded and cared for by both Elmer and Lima, who are doing a great job,” he said. “And once they have experience doing this and continue to do it well, they will be considered to foster future eggs.”

Same-sex couples of various species of penguins fostered eggs in the past at several other instututions in Spain, Germany, Brazil, and the US. Director Fox said the latest example in Syracuse should be taken as inspirational by humans when they consider what a successful family should look like.

The Humboldt penguin’s natural habitat stretches along the western coast of Latin America, from southern Chile to northern Peru. The species is considered vulnerable due to commercial fishing, which reduced their food supplies, and predation of colonies by animals like rats and feral cats.