Love is a wonderful thing, especially when it involves gay penguin dads.
Sphen and Magic, a same-sex penguin couple at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium in Australia who first became internet famous for their courtship earlier this month, welcomed their first baby chick October 19. The aquarium made the birth public Friday, and it’s a celebration for LGBTQ creatures everywhere.
Sea Life Sydney staff had initially given the two Gentoo penguins a dummy egg earlier this year, but the couple was so attentive that they decided Sphengic—their couple name—deserved a real egg of their own. Luckily, another penguin couple had laid two eggs and only one typically survives, so the staff decided the backup egg could go to Sphengic. Their baby bird was born weighing 91 grams and still needs a name. It’s the aquarium’s first sub-Antarctic penguin chick since the penguin exhibit opened in November 2016.
Daddy and baby.
Photo: Samantha Antoun (Merlin Entertainment)
“Baby Sphengic has already stolen our hearts,” said Tish Hannan, the penguin department supervisor at the aquarium, in a statement. “We love watching the proud parents doting and taking turns caring for their baby chick. With that said, the first 20 days of a penguin chick’s life are the most vulnerable, so it is extra important the chick is very happy, healthy, and well fed by his parents.”
The next six weeks, these dads will have to monitor their foster baby closely, feeding it up to 10 times a day. Then, once its feathers pop out, it can begin learning to swim.
The process of child-rearing at Sea Life is obviously less stressful than it is in the wild. There, the Gentoo penguin must protect its young from predatory birds like skuas, as well as sea lions and orcas. And there’s the obvious depressing reality of climate change and the ways it’s forever altering the frosty landscapes these animals depend on. At least the little bebé Sphen and Magic welcomed into the world should have a smooth ride within the confines of Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.
The crew first noticed the two were a couple earlier this month before the breeding season, when Sphen began giving Magic little pebbles, a way penguins show their affection. Same-sex penguins aren’t all that common, but New York City’s Central Park Zoo had a pair of gay chinstrap penguins, Roy and Silo, back in 1998. They went on to foster a female baby chick, Tango, who also evidently went on to fancy the ladies.
Look at its widdle face!
Photo: Samantha Antoun ((Merlin Entertainment))
Featured image: Samantha Antoun (Merlin Entertainment)