A same-sex penguin couple in the U.K. have successfully hatched a healthy little penguin chick. Penguins Diego and Zorro are the proud surrogate parents of little Ponyo, who was hatched at the Oceanarium in Bournemouth on May 12 but only recently revealed to the public.
"Our same-sex male couple penguins, Diego & Zorro have successfully hatched their new baby chick, Ponyo just in time for Bournemouth's PRIDE celebrations this weekend!" the Oceanarium announced in an Instagram post.
The Oceanarium's penguin keeper Kat Nicola said that the two lovebirds had shown a strong parenting skillset the previous year when they were given a dummy egg. This year, she gave the paired Humboldt penguins a fertilized egg and the feathered couple did not disappoint, proving to be excellent parents.
"It has been Diego and Zorro's second time fostering and once again they have smashed it, becoming quite the experts at parenting," Nicola said in a statement.
Nicola said staff at the Oceanarium noticed sparks fly between Diego and Zorro as early as 2017. It has since grown into a strong and lasting relationship to date, something that is not necessarily the norm among penguins.
Zorro (left) and Diego (right) have been an item since 2017
"Penguins are free to choose who they want to spend quality time with and in their case, choose each other," Nicola said, adding "the welfare and welfare of these animals" is the top priority of the Oceanarium and they "encourage penguins to make their own decisions when it comes to choosing mates."
Diego and Zorro join a long line of same-sex penguin parents and couples. In January, male Humboldt penguins Elmer and Lima successfully raised a foster chick at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, N.Y.,
Last year, famed same-sex penguin couple Sphen and Magic shared their three-year anniversary together. A spokesperson for the Sea Life Aquarium in Sydney, Australia said the pair of Gentoo penguins would celebrate the anniversary of their partnered relationship with a special frozen fish cake.
For now, Diego and Zorro are taking some much-needed time away from the public spotlight and adjusting to life as a family with little Ponyo.
"We're happy to let you all know that Ponyo is settling in well at the Oceanarium where they will remain off show for a little while longer whilst they find their happy feet," the Oceanarium said.
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