Taking another big flight forward for aviary LGBTQ+ rights, two lesbian penguins at the Oceanogràfic Aquarium in Valencia, Spain are the proud parents of a newly hatched chick. Electra and Viola incubated and hatched an adopted egg, and are now raising the cute little penguin all on their own.
“We put one of the eggs from a different couple into their nest so they could take care of it,” Carlos Barros, the aquarium’s bird-keeper, told Unilad, noting they are a great couple and expected to make great parents as well.
Electra and Viola are not the first gay penguins, nor are they the first same-sex couple to incubate, hatch, and raise a chick. 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.
More recently in 2018, same-sex penguin couple Magic and Sphen hatched and raised their own chick at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. Better known as Sphengic, the pair had always seemed to be more than friends and then started collecting pebbles to create a nest during mating season, as is typical among Gentoo penguin parents. Sphen even gave Magic a “special stone” which, according to the aquarium, “is the equivalent to proposing in the love language of penguins.”
It is also not uncommon for penguins to exhibit courtship behaviors with same-sex partners. A 2010 study entitled Homosexual Mating Displays in Penguins that appeared in the journal Ethology noted that “same‐sex courtship displays were common (28.3% of 53 displaying pairs).”
Zoo officials have not yet announced the sex of the chick, as it takes several weeks before a determination can be made. While we await the gender reveal for the love-chick of Electra and Viola, though, perhaps it’s time to make penguins the official mammal of the LGBTQ+ community.