Two male penguins have become proud foster fathers in an aquarium in Sydney. Caregivers gave the couple an egg and the two immediately behaved like parents. The two males, Sphen and Magic, did some heterosexual penguin couples during the breeding season: collecting pebbles for each other to build a nest.
The staff at the Sea Life Aquarium gave the couple a false egg to investigate whether they would also behave like parents. When that turned out to be the case, the two got an egg from a penguin couple that had two. On 19 October the chick was born, which received the provisional name Sphengic. An official name will only be chosen when the gender becomes clear. The Sea Life Sydney Aquarium will ask the public to make suggestions.
“Baby Sphengic has already stolen our hearts. We think it is fantastic to see the proud parents busy. They are crazy about their chick and take turns for him”, says Tish Hannan, who is responsible for the penguin department, today at the Sydney Morning Herald. Unlike other animals, penguins divide the care of offspring equally. There is no difference between the tasks of the female and the male.
It is not unusual for two penguins of the same sex to form a couple. In nature they cannot reproduce, so they eventually start looking for another partner.