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Gay Penguins Are Raising an Egg Together in Australia


Since same-sex marriage is now legal in Australia, two of Sydney's gay penguins figured it was time to start a family.

Two male penguins at Australia's Sea Life Sydney Aquarium have shacked up and are raising an egg together, and they are impressively good at it, zookeepers say.

Magic and Sphen practiced being dads with a dummy egg and were so nurturing that zookeepers decided that they should give the couple a real one to parent.

"They were absolute naturals and displayed great care for their egg, so much so, the team at Sea Life Sydney fostered a real egg to them from another couple who had two," the aquarium announced on its website Friday. "Whilst Sphen is older and is excellent at incubating, Magic is younger and still mastering his skill."

The pair of gentoo penguins, known for having a white stripe that resembles a bonnet on their heads, were already falling for each other before they began overseeing the egg.

"Sphen and Magic began developing a strong bond and became inseparable before breeding season, and are constantly seen waddling around and going for swims together in the Penguin Expedition," the aquarium noted.

Zookeepers noticed it was more than a fling when Sphen gave Magic a special stone, which they say is "equivalent to proposing in the love language of penguins."

Staff even gave the same-sex couple a name: "Sphengic."

After taking each other's flippers in marriage, the young couple began lusting for a family and started building a nest out of pebbles.

In order to make sure Sphen and Magic weren't disappointed that they couldn't biologically reproduce, zookeepers decided to let the penguins incubate a dummy egg.

Rotating the responsibilities of incubating the egg and guarding their nest against pebble thieves or homophobic neighbors, Sphen and Magic were such impressive dads to the fake egg that the aquarium decided to award them a real one.

"Whilst Sphen is older and is excellent at incubating, Magic is younger and still mastering his skill. The pair make a great team, and there are often days where the egg can not be seen," the aquarium reported, noting that hiding the egg is very good for penguin breeding.

The two are members of Sea Life Sydney's first gentoo penguin breeding program, and the aquarium has high hopes it will become one of the most successful in the world.

They are not the first same-sex penguin couple to win fame as parents, however. Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo, raised a chick together and became the subject of the children's book And Tango Makes Three. At England's Kent Zoo, male couple Kermit and Jumbs raised a chick who had been abandoned by its birth parents, and the zoo in 2014 dubbed them its best penguin parents ever.

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