‘Gay' Penguin Couple Sphen and Magic Become Parents to 91 Gram Baby Penguin, All Are Doing Well

Two male penguins who paired off and became an internet sensation as a “same sex couple” have successfully incubated a baby chick which has just hatched.

Gentoo penguins Sphen and Magic had been spotted by staff at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium waddling around together. The couple were so close that they even recognized each other’s signature calls and songs, just like any bonded penguin pair. So staff decided to test their nurturing skills by giving them a dummy egg in a nest of pebbles.

The couple, collectively known as "Sphengic," passed the test with flying colors and so were given a real egg to look after. They swapped duties daily and while one would incubate the egg, the other would patrol the nest to ward off any perceived threats.

sphengic-baby-chick-3 The unnamed chick incubated by same-sex couple Sphen and Magic was born at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. Weighing just 91 grams, it has become the aquarium’s first sub-Antarctic penguin chick. Sea Life Sydney

Hatched on 19 October, the couple’s unnamed chick weighing 91 grams has become the Australian aquarium’s first sub-Antarctic penguin chick.

Penguin department supervisor at the aquarium, Tish Hannan, said that the baby “has already stolen our hearts. We love watching the proud parents doting and taking turns caring for their baby chick.

“With that said, the first 20 days of a penguin chick’s life are the most vulnerable so it is extra important the chick is very happy, healthy and well fed by his parents.

“We can’t wait for the world to fall in love with Baby Sphengic like they did with our amazing same-sex couple, Sphen and Magic,” she added, according to the aquarium’s website.

Male and female Gentoo penguins tend to share parental duties equally. Often male or female couples show courtship behavior in the wild, but these relationships are short-lived because they do not result in a chick.

penguin2 A male gentoo penguin, part of a 'same-sex couple,' fosters a chick at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. The chick was dubbed 'Baby Sphengic'. Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

“Because we have given Sphen and Magic the opportunity to have a potentially successful breeding season, it is very likely that they will return to each other again next year,” Hannan told Agence France Presse.

The chick will now stay with its dads for its first six weeks and will feed up to 10 times a day before it starts to grow adult feathers and learn how to swim.

Other zoos have had same-sex penguin couples adopt eggs in captivity. In 2009 at a zoo in Berlin, two male penguins, Z and Vielpunkt successfully hatched and reared a chick that was rejected by its heterosexual parents. Keepers at a zoo in New York gave a foster egg to two male chinstrap penguins, which successfully hatched.

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