Same-sex penguin couple welcome adopted chick

Female penguins Electra and Viola were given the egg of another penguin couple after they began to display typical breeding behaviour.


The Oceanografic Aquarium in Valencia, Spain has welcomed a new baby chick to a same-sex penguin couple for the first time in its history. New parents, Electra and Viola, are part of the aquarium’s colony of 25 gentoo penguins which welcomed three new chicks this breeding season. Along with Electra and Viola, two other couples in the colony, Navi and Aquela, and Bolo and Melibe also welcomed their new chicks into the world. 

Electra and Viola began to show exceptional displays of breeding behaviours such as building their own nest with stones in preparation for the arrival of a baby. Stones are also often used by penguins as “gifts” from a male to his female partner, however, in this case, the couple would present them to one another. Carlos Barros, the aquarium’s bird-keeper noticed how the couple were attempting to start a family, explaining that they had both put two of their own eggs each into the nest they had made, unaware that they were unfertilised. 

It was clear that Electra and Viola were ready to become parents and Barros along with the other keepers at the aquarium decided that it was only fair to the couple the chick they so desperately wanted. Despite it not biologically possible for the same-sex female couple to conceive, the keepers decided to give the pair their own adopted egg to raise as their own.

As expected, Electra and Viola have proven themselves to be wonderful parents after incubating the adopted egg themselves and now carrying for the new chick. The new chick hasn’t been given a name yet, nor have the two other hatchlings as their sex will not able to be determined until they are about six weeks old.

Although Electra and Viola are the first female same-sex penguin couple to raise a chick in the Oceanografic Aquarium, same-sex couples and adoptive parents are well-documented in penguins. Last year another female same-sex couple Marama and Rocky were given an adoptive egg to raise as their own in London’s Sea Life Centre. While more famously, male penguins Roy and Silo from Central Park Zoo attempted to incubate rocks until they were too given an adoptive egg. Their story, in particular, is well known as it was turned into a children’s book called And Tango Makes Three.

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