According to a recent report from the Sydney Aquarium, a same-sex penguin couple recently welcomed their tiny offspring into the world. The two male penguins known as Sphen and Magic are apparently in the midst of spoiling their newborn baby chick hatched just last week on October 19.
According to the aquarium workers, Sphen and Magic were often discovered constantly around each other, and the staff had serious suspicions about them being a couple since they were also seen swimming together. So, the aquarium gave the birds the opportunity to incubate a dummy egg as a trial.
They did so well that, finally, the staff decided to give them the chance to foster a real egg from another couple who had laid two during the 2018 breeding season. The baby chick then hatched under the loving care of its new same-sex parents weighing 91 grams and has since been thriving under their dedicated watch.
BABY SPHENGIC IS HERE! ??? Born Friday 19th October @ 5:46pm, weighing just 91g! Gender TBC in 2 months. Both dads are doing well and are so in love with their precious bub. ?? Full story: https://t.co/3Nllhq3N3o#BabySphengicpic.twitter.com/yESrjbLXqI
— Sea Life Sydney Aquarium (@Sydney_Aquarium) October 26, 2018
A touching love story
After the initial few times that the couple was discovered in each other’s company, workers started to notice a steady pattern of trends. The male penguins were seen building a nest of pebbles together.
This was their way of alerting the aquarium that they wanted a dummy egg to care for. They also wanted a real egg for when they succeeded in their mission.
Although the workers of the aquarium were quite surprised by the events unfolding in front of their eyes, their curiosity prompted them into obliging the couple.
And what happened then?
As revealed from the horse’s mouth a.k.a. the supervisor of the penguin department named Hannan: “They recognize each other's signature calls and songs. Only bonded penguins will be able to successfully find their partner using their calls when they are separated. There is no real difference when it comes to breeding behaviors between males and females. So, it is common to have male-male or female-female showing courtship and breeding behavior.”
Penguins show a distinguished quality contrary to other species of mammals where the male penguin and the female penguin are equally responsible to share their parental duties. They take on the job 50-50 with a lot of determination and gusto.
The crazy thing about this courtship between Sphen and Magic is that these twosomes are usually not known to result in an offspring, that too a chick. Same-sex or male-female courtships in penguins are, more often than not, short-lived because the penguins feel discontent with how their relationship is going and this is when they start their search for more compatible partners.
However, Hannan is quite hopeful about the future of this couple and shared her optimism by saying: “Because we have given Sphen and Magic the opportunity to have a potentially successful breeding season, it is very likely that they will return to each other again next year.”
The new Dads are over the moon and are apparently taking turns to feed the chick by regurgitation. They feed their child almost ten times a day and if Hannan is to be believed: "Baby Sphengic has already stolen our hearts! We love watching the proud parents doting and taking turns caring for their baby chick.”
Here’s wishing the happy couple great parenting!