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Same-Sex Penguin Couple Successfully Hatched Their First Foster Chick

Same-Sex Penguin Couple Successfully Hatched Their First Foster Chick

Rosamond Gifford Zoo/Facebook

The pair were chosen as foster parents after impressing staff with the devotion to each other and defense of their nest.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York revealed a pair of gay penguins have become the proud foster parents of an adorable penguin chick.

Elmer and Lima formed a pair bond for the current breeding season and were given a real egg to hatch after they had built a nest together and successfully defended it from encroachment by other members of the penguin colony.

"It was their first time fostering and they really knocked it out of the park," April Zimpel, the zoo's bird manager, said in a statement.

Zoos often call upon foster parents to hatch eggs that are abandoned by their parents or taken away by zoo staff because their biological parents have proven unable to properly care for unhatched eggs in the past. Last year's foster chick was taken from parents with a habit of breaking the unhatched egg or not keeping it properly warmed. Because of this, staff at the zoo are always on the lookout for potential penguin foster parents.

"Some pairs, when given a dummy egg, will sit on the nest but leave the egg to the side and not incubate it correctly, or they'll fight for who is going to sit on it when," Ted Fox, the zoo's director, said in a statement. "That's how we evaluate who will be good foster parents."

Fox said Elmer and Lima passed their parenting test with high marks, describing the proud couple as "exemplary in every aspect of egg care."

Sadly, while Elmer and Lima might have proven to be excellent providers for their fostered chick so far, like all penguin parents, they will soon grow disinterested in their responsibilities and leave the youngster to fend for itself.

Deborah DeLorenzo, penguin keeper at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, revealed to that at around two months, even the best of parents like Elmer and Lima "reach a stage where they no longer want to feed or care for their chicks" and that's where staff intervenes. Penguin chicks are taught how to eat whole fish, and also must learn to swim in the zoo's penguin exhibit pools.

"We are not teaching them how to swim," DeLorenzo explained in the video, saying they are "just showing them the ropes" of how to get into and out of the pool and then letting nature takes its course.

Same-sex relationships between penguins are not uncommon, and since penguins can only hatch one egg at a time, the gay pairs are often called upon to foster and raise extra eggs.

Celebrity gay penguin couple Sphen and Magic (known collectively as Sphengic) have already hatched two eggs together at the Sea Life Aquarium in Sydney, Australia. They recently celebrated their third anniversary together with a special frozen fish cake. Two years ago, lesbian penguins Electra and Viola incubated and hatched a penguin chick at the Oceanographic Aquarium in Valencia, Spain. Two gay penguins were so desperate for a family, at the Dierenpark Zoo in the Netherlands, they egg-napped an unhatched egg along with the entire nest from a couple of lesbian penguins in their captive colony.

"The males took the egg from a straight couple at an unguarded moment," zookeeper Marc Belt explained at the time.

You can watch the new penguin chicks learning the ropes in the video below.

RELATED | These Two Gay Penguin Couples Just Became a Newborn's 'Fab Uncles'

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