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    Birds of a feather? Zoo to split up same-sex penguin pair

    NewsBird NewsThursday 10 November 2011
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    Canada

    Can penguins be gay?

    The question may sound silly at first, but it's been a topic of both scientific and cultural controversy for some time now – particularly since “And Tango Makes Three,” a children's book based on the true story of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo who raised an egg together, came out in 2005. The book has drawn fire from conservative groups ever since.
     
    Now the gay-penguin issue has raised its, er, beak again with the news that the Toronto Zoo is planning to split up a pair of male African penguins named Buddy and Pedro.
     
    The feathered friends came to the zoo from Toledo, Ohio, and quickly formed a close bond. They pair off from their group of 12 every night, and even display signs of mating rituals. They make mating calls to each other, groom each other, defend each other's territory and basically hang out together. A lot.
     
    “They seem to be in a loving relationship of some sort,’’ Joe Torzsok, chairman of the Toronto zoo board, told the Toronto Star.
     
    Mind you, Central Park and Toronto are not the only places that same-sex pairing between penguins has been observed; zookeepers in Japan and Germany have also reported such behaviors, including male couples that build nests together and use stones as substitute “eggs.” And penguins are far from the only creatures in which homosexual and bisexual behavior have been observed – there are cases among elephants, giraffes, dolphins, black swans, certain monkeys and, lest we forget, human beings.
     
     
     
    But soon Buddy will have to get along without his best buddy. Duty calls: African penguins are endangered, and 10-year-old Pedro and 20-year-old Buddy happen to be carrying some very nice genes under those tuxedos they wear.
     
    Bottom line: For the good of their species – which has dwindled from millions to about 224,000 – Buddy and Pedro are going to have to try to learn some new moves. 
     

     

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