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Watch: Gay Aussie Penguins Claim the Spotlight — and An Egg to Foster

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Oct 12, 2018
Stock photo
Stock photo  

A same-sex penguin couple, Sphen and Magic, who live at the Sydney Aquarium's Sea Life attraction, seemed so keen to have an egg of their own to care for that staff at the attraction fostered one to them. Now the adorbs pair — who are collectively known by the name Sphengic — are tending to their egg with all the tender devotion of any other couple, according to a release from the aquarium.

"Whilst Sphen is older and is excellent at incubating, Magic is younger and still mastering his skill," the aquarium's release notes. "The pair make a great team, and there are often days where the egg can not be seen (which is really good for penguin breeding!)."

The pair of Gentoo penguins have set off ripples of delight in the world press. UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported on how the aquarium's staff took note of how to two "had an instant connection" and "developed a strong bond just before breeding season."

The couple build a nest of pebbles, just as other couples were doing, and when they were provided with a "dummy egg" to care for they took right to it. Impressed, the staff provided them with a real egg, which came from a couple that had two eggs to care for.

"Meet Sea Life Syndey's coolest couple," a post at the attraction's Facebook page invites. The post includes a video of Sphen and Magic adding a heart-shaped pebble to their nest.

Sphengic are just the latest in a long line of celebrated same-sex penguin pairings that have cared for eggs and raised chicks. Another UK newspaper, , recalled a recent story in which a gay penguin couple at Odense Zoo in Denmark appropriated another couple's chick when both parents left it unattended.

As The Sun put it, "when they saw the chick being 'neglected' by its parents, they decided to intervene and snatch it in hope of adopting it."

Perhaps the most celebrated story of two penguin dads raising a chick is that of Roy and Silo, a male penguin couple at the New York's Central Park Zoo whose nurturing of a chick named Tango inspired the children's book "And Tango Makes Three."

Alas, spoilsports are everywhere, and for several years running the book topped the American Library Association's annual List of Challenged Books — that is, books that people have tried to get removed from libraries. As recently as this year, "Tango" was on the list once again, reportedly for "LGBT content" (gasp!), though it was no longer in the Number One spot.

Watch the Sea Life video of Sphen and Magic below.



Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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