Australia’s favorite gay penguin couple are proud parents once again. The Sea Life Aquarium in Sydney announced that Sphen and Magic, the aquarium’s famed same-sex male lovebirds, have hatched another egg together. According to the Star Observer, it’s the second time the pair of Gentoo penguins has hatched an adopted egg. The earlier effort produced Sphengic in 2018, though she was later renamed Lara. The gay penguins’ most recent bundle of shelled joy was one of seven chicks hatched at the aquarium since mid-October.
“We are beyond excited to welcome the new penguin chicks to our colony,” Kerri Dixon, the penguin supervisor at the Sea Life Aquarium, said. “They are doing really well and gaining weight.”
Sphen and Magic became parents to little Lara in 2018 after the aquarium gave them an egg to foster. Penguins can only hatch one egg at a time, so extra eggs are routinely given to empty-nested couples. The two gay lovebirds were attentive parents, always having the largest and cleanest nest among the colony. Their efforts clearly paid off with the first chick, and staff at the aquarium believe they will make excellent parents again.
“Lara is now two years old and surprising us everyday with how independent she is,” said an aquarium spokesperson. “Despite still being relatively young, she attempted to take part in this year’s breeding season. She and her partner set up a nest and carefully watched over it but unfortunately weren’t successful in hatching an offspring.”
While their story is heartwarming, it is not unique. Same-sex couples and parents are not uncommon in nature.
“Penguins, including Gentoo Penguins, are among the many species in which male-male or female-female pairing occur frequently,” the spokesperson continued.
Earlier this year, lesbian penguins Electra and Viola incubated and hatched a penguin chick at the Oceanogràphic Aquarium in Valencia, Spain. A pair of same-sex penguins were notably split up in 2011 in Toronto in an effort to mate with female penguins as their species is endangered. Before them, in 2009 there were proud fathers Z and Vielpunkt in Humboldt who, like Electra and Viola, successfully hatched an egg together. There’s even an exclusive male community of penguins in Hamburg — though they haven't all shown signs of same-sex intimacy.
Aquarium staff are hoping some of Sphen and Magic’s parenting skills rub off on Lara.
“We look forward to seeing how she goes next year and whether she’ll give Sphen and Magic a little grand penguin chick,” the spokesperson said.