Gay penguin 'power couple' fostering second egg at Sydney aquarium

Sphen and Magic, a same-sex penguin duo at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, are working to expand their Gentoo penguin family.
Image: AUSTRALIA-ANIMAL-PENGUIN
Two male gentoo penguins who have paired up as a "same-sex couple" at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.Sea Life Sydney Aquarium / AFP-Getty Images file
By Brooke Sopelsa

Sphen and Magic, a same-sex penguin duo that made international headlines last year after becoming parents for the first time, are now working to expand their family.

“We’ve fostered them another egg this year, so Sphengic may or may not have a little baby brother or sister, but we’re not sure if it’s fertile yet at this stage,” Tish Hannan, a penguin keeper at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, said in a video posted to the aquarium’s website.

Sphengic, the male couple’s first penguin chick, turned 1 on Oct. 19, and she has had “an excellent start to life” under the care of Sphen and Magic, Hannan said.

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“They’re fantastic parents,” she added. “Both very loyal and protective.”

Hannan said when the penguin keepers noticed another Gentoo penguin couple struggling to incubate two eggs at the same time, they decided to have Sphen and Magic — “the power couple of the colony” — foster one of the eggs.

Visitors to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium during breeding season will easily be able to spot the nest of Sphen and Magic, Hannan said.

“They’re the ones with the biggest and most beautiful — and possibly neatest — nest in the entire exhibit,” she said.

Sydney’s gay “power couple” aren’t the only penguins to make international news over the past two years.

In September 2018, two male penguins at a Denmark zoo nabbed a chick while its mother was swimming. The zoo staff returned the little one to its biological parents soon after, but took heed of the couple’s nurturing affect and found an egg for them to raise.

And in July, longtime duo Rocky and Marama made headlines after adopting a chick at Sea Life Aquarium London. The penguin mothers were in the news again in September when their 4-month-old became the world’s first “genderless” penguin chick.

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