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Sydney's same-sex penguins become parents

Male penguin couple Magic and Sphen, who were entrusted with the care of a fostered egg, have welcomed a tiny chick into the world.
This screen grab taken from recent undated handout video released on October 26, 2018 by the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium shows the two male gentoo penguins who have paired up as a "same-sex couple" at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.Sea Life Sydney Aquarium / Handout / Sea Life Sydney Aquarium / AFP / Getty Images

SYDNEY — Two male penguins entrusted with the care of a fostered egg have welcomed a tiny sub-Antarctic Gentoo chick into the world, Sydney's Sea Life Aquarium said on Friday.

The pair, Magic and Sphen, made headlines around the world this month when aquarium staff gave them the egg, following a successful trial with a dummy egg.

A penguin chick, hatched from an egg fostered by Magic and Sphen, is pictured in Sydney's Sea Life Aquarium in this undated photo obtained from social media.Sea Life Sydney Aquarium/via Reuters

The yet-to-be-named chick, weighing 91 gm (3.21 oz), was born on the evening of Oct. 19 and is the first sub-Antarctic penguin born at the aquarium.

The couple, who formed a bond before the 2018 breeding season, doted on the adopted chick, said Tish Hannan, an aquarium official.

"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," she added.

Magic and Sphen had placed the egg on small nesting rings built with pebbles and shared duties, with one patrolling for possible threats, while the other kept the egg warm.

This recent undated handout photo released on October 26, 2018 by the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium shows a baby gentoo penguin (bottom), born on October 19, being fostered by a male penguin.Handout / Sea Life Sydney Aquarium / AFP / Getty Images

There is little difference between opposite-sex and same-sex rearing among Gentoo penguins, which share parenting and feeding responsibilities equally, Hannan said prior to the birth, adding that the example was not the first among zoos across the world.

A children's book, "And Tango Makes Three", based on the real story of two penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo who reared their own chick, drew acclaim from some for its depiction of non-traditional family structures.

It was also among the titles Hong Kong pulled from bookshelves in public libraries this year, following pressure from anti-gay groups, the South China Morning Post newspaper has said.