It's an exciting time for Skipper and Ping, two male Emperor penguins who live at the Berlin zoo. They have been longing for an egg of their own and now, they finally have one. This is by no means the only gay penguin - or animal - couple in the world, but that doesn't make their story any less special. Here it is.
Meet Ping and Skipper, two 10 year old male Emperor penguins who live at the Berlin Zoo. They were moved together from Hamburg's Hagenbeck Zoo in April, and since then the couple has formed a special bond and become inseparable. Since their move, Skipper and Ping have been wanting to raise an egg of their own. According to zoo staff, both penguins were seen trying to hatch stones and even a dead fish by sitting on them, in an attempt to become fathers.
This is a natural instinct for male penguins, who look after their eggs for around three months, while the mother penguins are out hunting. During this time, the father penguins cannot hunt for food because the egg is nestled on top of their feet under the flap of skin that serves as a kind of pouch, called a brood pouch, and the temperatures can get to -35 degrees Celsius.
The group of father penguins, which can reach into the thousands, huddle together and constantly rotate so that every penguin has an equal share of time on the cold outside of the circle and in the warm middle. By the time the mother penguin returns, the father penguin has fasted for four months and has done nothing but keep its egg warm and safe. Talk about dedication!
The zoo staff noticed the nurturing instincts Skipper and Ping were showing, and when another female penguin at the zoo abandoned her egg, seized the opportunity to make the penguin dads as happy as they could be. Norbert Zahmel, a zoo keeper at Berlin zoo, said "We just had to put [the egg] in front of one of the males. He immediately knew what to do."
Since the dads started looking after their egg, reports from the zoo confirm that they are 'looking after it in an exemplary manner'. Typically, when homosexual couples in the wild share parenting duties, they take turns in incubating the egg. And that is exactly what Skipper and Ping are doing.
If all goes well, the two penguin dads should be expecting their little one to hatch sometime in September. Lets keep our flippers crossed for them.
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