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These two gay penguins may finally welcome a chick

August 9, 2019

The Berlin Zoo's two male penguins have been caring for the egg since July and have long sought to be new parents. The pair will find out in September if they are successful.

The Berlin Zoo's two male king penguins, Skipper and Ping, are seen in this photo dated 24 June 2019
The Berlin Zoo's two male king penguins, Skipper and Ping, are seen in this photo dated 24 June 2019 (picture-alliance/dpa/K. Broeseke/Zoo berlin)Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Broeseke/Zoo berlin

A pair of male penguins have adopted an abandoned egg at the Berlin Zoo in an effort to welcome the pair's first chick.

The same-sex couple — Skipper and Ping — have harbored parenting ambitions for some time. The 10-year-olds had attempted to hatch stones and even fish, a zookeeper told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

Paternal instincts

The broody pair has been caring for the egg since it was abandoned by the penguin colony's lone female. "We just had to put it in front of one of the males. He immediately knew what to do. This is the first time we've tried to have a same-sex penguin couple incubate an egg," zookeeper Norbert Zahmel told the newspaper.

Skipper and Ping's chances of welcoming a chick to the six-penguin colony depend on whether the egg is fertilized, which the zoo said was not known. If it is — and the egg is successfully looked after — Skipper and Ping could become surrogate parents in as much as 55 days, or early September.

Same-sex courtships in penguin colonies have been documented by scientists for decades — and this is not the Berlin Zoo's first encounter. Several years ago, king penguin residents Stan and Ollie became a couple at the zoo before relocating to Hamburg.

Read more: There is no homophobia in the animal kingdom 

Last year, two male gentoo penguins became fathers when they successfully reared a young penguin at a Sydney aquarium.

In the early 2000s, two male chinstrap penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo successfully reared a chick.

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stb/kl (Reuters, dpa, BZ newspaper)