Penguin Pride

By Liezl Vicedo

Recently at the Sea Life Aquarium in Sydney, Australia, there’s been a growing buzz about the same-sex penguin couple Magic and Sphen. Though same-sex courtship is common among male penguins, to be taking care of a foster egg like Sphengic (their coined couple name) will still prove to be a difficult task. Possible challenges include deciding who would sit on the egg to keep it warm, while the other would go gather pebbles for the nest, or who will go get food for the baby when it hatches.

A few months back, Sphengic was observed to be more than just friendly; the two gentoo penguins began to swim together, take long waddles together, and even started to build their very own ice pebble nest. This all happened even before breeding season!

The aquarium took notice of the embers of love and gave them a “dummy” egg so Sphengic wouldn’t feel left out around the other penguin couples during mating season.

Eventually, when Sphengic had displayed the capabilities of a responsible pair of penguins, the Sea Life Aquarium gave them a real egg so they could be foster parents for it if and when it hatches.

But Sphengic isn’t the first couple of penguins to be same-sex foster parents of an egg. In 2000, Roy and Silo, penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo, had hatched a baby named Tango. There was even a children’s book published about the pair five years later! Hopefully Sphengic doesn’t become separated like Roy and Silo later were by a more aggressive couple, though many are rooting for the couple as it could show a shift in how some animals are viewed or raised.

Last month, Orlando’s Pride Parade took place on October 13th, and there was an amazing amount of support for the LGBTQ+ community shown there, from people all over the world, and even from Winter Park’s very own ASL teacher, Mrs. McKay. 

“It was a fun experience to hang out with my deaf friends and be an ally,” she said. “This was my second time going to Pride. The support and love for the LGBTQ+ community from Orlando is amazing!”

Though she was born unable to hear, McKay still enjoys many of the same things us hearing people do, and she shares her thoughts on the news of the same-sex penguin couple.

“I didn’t know! Cool!” McKay remarks. To her, the penguins and the Pride Parade “means that it is normal for people that are the same sex to be attracted to each other and have a relationship.”