A same-sex penguin couple at Sea Life London has become proud parents after their first egg successfully hatched.
The female gentoo couple, Marama and Rocky, have been together for five years and received the egg after demonstrating to the aquarium’s team that they would make good parents.
The egg was moved from its birth mother to relieve her of the pressure of raising two chicks.
The tiny bundle of fluff’s name and gender has yet to be revealed and is the latest example in the successful adoption of animals by same-sex animal couples.
General manager Graham McGrath said: ‘Marama and Rocky have taken to becoming parents like ducks to water – or should I say penguins.
‘Caring for a newborn is tough for anyone, from the sleepless nights to the constant feeding, yet this wonderful pair of penguin parents are completely unflappable and seem to be taking it all in their stride.’
Marama and Rocky are first-time parents but they have shown great parenting qualities over the past two years building the best nests in the colony.
They also have a very strong bond – bowing to each other regularly – allowing them to take it in turns to look after the nest.
Marama is the older of the pair and naturally more protective of the chick, while Rocky – who is free-spirited and inquisitive – is keen to teach the new arrival everything it needs to know about life as a penguin.
The new parents have built the biggest nest in the colony and each performs shifts, giving the other a chance to swim and feed.
Last week, penguins at ZSL London Zoo were photographed with an LGBTQ+ Pride banner to celebrate the annual parade.
The sign declaring ‘some penguins are gay, get over it’ was erected in the Penguin Beach enclosure this week to mark Pride.
The enclosure – which recreates a South American beach landscape – is home to several same-sex couples, including Humboldt penguins Ronnie and Reggie.
The birds struck up a relationship in 2014 and have since raised a chick together. Zookeepers said they remain as ‘strong as ever’ today.
The sign – which is about as tall as a penguin and stands facing visitors – supports the Get Over It campaign spearheaded by the LGBTQ charity, Stonewall.
Penguins are said to mate for life, and same-sex pairings have been observed both in the wild and in captivity.
The gentoo chick is the second to be born at Sea Life London this year, as part of its conservation program.
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