A same-sex penguin couple at a major aquarium in London, UK, have adopted and raised a gender-neutral chick together. Keepers are avoiding naming the chick until it is older and its gender becomes apparent.
Penguins Rocky and Marama have been a couple for approximately five years. A spokesperson for Sea Life London told Queerty, “at the time they were given the chick, they were exhibiting some of the strongest parent instincts in the colony.”
Because of this, in July, keepers decided the pair would be ideal parents to raise a new chick. The baby was born as part of the institute’s conservation program.
The pair were given the egg to hatch. It was one of two eggs born to its birth mother. It was moved to relieve mom from the pressure of raising two chicks.
The female couple took to their roles immediately.
The zoo today announced the chick is gender-neutral and will continue to be regarded as such until it reaches maturity. The youngster, who has yet to be named, is the aquarium’s first not to be characterized as male or female.
No, this isn’t an example of corporate virtue signaling. Sea Life says gender neutrality is “more of a human construct.”
Graham McGrath, Sea Life General Manager, explains: “While the decision may ruffle a few feathers, gender neutrality in humans has only recently become a widespread topic of conversation, however, it is completely natural for penguins to develop genderless identities as they grow into mature adults.”
In other words, the institution is not rushing to give the youngster a gendered name.
The chick is one of two born at the aquarium this year as part of its Gentoo breeding program.
“What makes us really proud at the aquarium is the success of Sea Life London’s Gentoo breeding program and the amazing job of same-sex penguins Rocky and Marama who took the chick under their wing and raised it as their own.”
Same-sex relations are not uncommon in the penguin world, and there are numerous examples of such couples in zoos worldwide.
One of the most famous books for young kids to highlight same-sex relationships was based on the real-life story of a male pair in New York’s Central Park Zoo who rose a chick together. And Tango Makes Three was published to great acclaim in 2005.