Kent

Gay penguins in Kent zoo are 'the best parents'

  • 14 May 2014
  • From the section Kent

A same-sex penguin couple are rearing a chick after it was abandoned by its parents at a zoo in Kent.

Staff at Wingham Wildlife Park stepped in after the baby bird's mother had to leave the egg because the father refused to help her incubate it.

The two male Humboldt penguins, Jumbs and Kermit, were given the egg, which hatched a month ago.

Park owner Tony Binskin said: "These two have so far proven to be two of the best penguin parents we have had yet."

Jumbs and Kermit were first seen pairing up in 2012, leaving two females without mates.

"Whilst it was nice to see two of our birds pair up, it actually meant that we were left with not two but four birds unable to reproduce within our collection," Mr Binskin said.

'Very inconsiderate partner'

The species is thought to be declining in number, and the park brought in two new males for breeding.

But each time female Isobel lays an egg, her partner Hurricane refuses to sit on it.

Penguins with chick
The baby bird hatched on 12 April

Mr Binskin's wife Jackie said Hurricane was a "very inconsiderate partner who is happy to get Isobel pregnant", then "seems to think that his job is done".

An egg from the pair was given to Jumbs and Kermit last year, but failed to hatch.

Isobel laid another egg in March, but was again forced to leave it to find food.

It was given to Jumbs and Kermit, and hatched on 12 April.

There have been previous reports of exclusive male-to-male pairings among penguins, and some have reared chicks.

Mr Binskin said: "Whilst pair bonding often results in no result other than eliminating those two animals from the breeding population of that species, in captivity it can have greatly positive effects.

"We are still very much starting our breeding efforts with this species, and this is only our second year of breeding, but having such good surrogate parents available should we need them is a huge bonus for us."

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