An aquarium this year will have not one, but two same-sex penguin couples on display for this year’s mating season.
The all-female mates have been preparing their nests, collecting pebbles, and waiting in anticipation for this time of year. They may potentially adopt unwanted eggs from other penguins also mating this season.
The Sea Life London Aquarium will be the home of the lesbian power couples Marmalade and Chickpea, and Marama and Rocky. “As well as our male-female penguin couples, this breeding season we also have two female same-sex couples who are also going through their nesting rituals,” aquarium manager Catherine Pritchard announced.
Marmalade and Chickpea are newly together, but Marama and Rocky have already raised an egg they adopted together in 2019.
Visitors can see them as early as tomorrow, and they might catch them in the midst of their mating rituals.
Our Colony of Gentoo penguins have been expressing their love with the dating ritual of gifting pebbles ahead of welcoming back guests on May 17 🐧🥚
This season, we have two same sex couples going through the mating rituals here at London
👭Marmalade & Chickpea
👭Marama & Rocky pic.twitter.com/l7DnPUv6ZA
— SEA LIFE London Aquarium (@london_aquarium) May 13, 2021
All of the aquarium’s penguins are Gentoo penguins, natively common to areas just outside of Antarctica, such as the British sub-Antarctic territory Falkland Islands. They are considered the fastest swimmers among penguin species and inspired the software code distribution known as Gentoo Linux.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognizes them as a near-threatened species, according to National Geographic. Experts at Sea Life are hoping to have the most “successful” mating season possible, so they may more than welcome an adoption by their lesbian couples.
Gentoo penguin parents “often form long-lasting bonds” and “are highly nurturing.” Pairs can incubate eggs for a period of approximately 35 days, and once hatched, the babies are nurtured for another period of more than a month, with each parent taking turns at every responsibility.
Female penguins Marmalade and Chickpea, and Marama and Rocky got together during the aquarium's mating season. 🐧❤️🐧https://t.co/2RzA50VTzQ#lgbtq #lovenothate #lgbtqia #wearefamily pic.twitter.com/6l1XBgTuCM
— Swindon & Wiltshire Pride (@Swindonwiltspri) May 13, 2021
“Gentoo penguins are the ultimate romantics, and their dating techniques are truly unique – so much so that as humans, we could certainly learn a thing or two from their passion and commitment to finding a mate,” Pritchard said according to the BBC.
Same-sex penguin couples are common in nature, and many serve as superstars at different zoos and aquariums around the world. Inca and Rayas, another pair of Gentoo penguin parents, are currently living in Madrid’s Faunia Park Zoo.
There’s also Thelma and Louise, two lesbian penguins raising a chick together in a New Zealand zoo. They’re entering a decade together and have mystified zookeepers who don’t know how they fertilized their last egg.
The London Zoo has started to let their gay penguins celebrate Pride, and the Heythrop Zoo in Oxfordshire helped throw a lavish English countryside wedding for their same-sex penguin couple, Ferrari and Pringle, last year.
There’s also Sphen and Magic, the two male penguins in Australia that successfully hatched an egg over two years ago and raised the chick, Lara, into adulthood. Last fall, they were preparing to become prospective grandparents.
Elsewhere in Europe, there’s a pair of troublemaking gay penguins who are notorious for constantly stealing eggs from other penguin couples. The Dutch duo stole an egg in 2019 that didn’t hatch, and unfortunately in 2020 they decided to eggsnatch from a lesbian couple, whose eggs were left unfertile.
For contrast, Eduardo and Rio, the surrogate penguin dads at the San Francisco zoo, earned “best penguin dad” honors.
Even gay couples who aren’t yet able to raise children have enjoyed their life together. A same-sex penguin duo in Munich adopted a little rock as their companion when they didn’t have an egg to take care of.
While other zoos are homes to a few gay penguin couples, one in Ireland has become home to four, more than the straight couples they shelter.