It's been a long road to parenthood for Skipper and Ping — two male penguins at the Berlin Zoo.
The same-sex couple, who transferred from Hamburg's Hagenbeck Zoo last April, have long shown a desire to raise a chick. The pair have been spotted trying to hatch stones and fish in their quest to become dads.
The 10-year-old king penguins may soon get their wish. The sole female in the zoo's penguin colony abandoned her egg, and in July Skipper and Ping stepped in to adopt it.
Maximilian Jäger, a spokesman for the zoo, told Berliner Zeitung, a Berlin-based newspaper, that the two are "behaving like model parents, taking turns to keep the egg warm" under their brood pouches — the flap of skin just over the feet protecting the egg.
There are currently six king penguins at the Berlin Zoo. There hasn't been a new chick since 2002. "A successful hatching would be great," Jäger said. However, a happy ending isn't guaranteed. "The thing is, we don't know if the egg was fertilized," Jäger added.
If the egg is fertilized and no problems arise, the egg will hatch in early September.
Same-sex behavior is commonplace in the animal kingdom. A study published in The Guardian showed that among king penguins, up to one in five will engage in same-sex relationships.
The London Zoo, home to several same-sex couples, raised awareness of homosexuality among animals in a recent Pride-related program that included signage in its penguin beach: "Some penguins are gay, get over it."