Ireland has its first gay penguin couple. The international phenomenon, whereby two same sex male or female penguin pairs court and build a nest together has been observed for the first time at Dingle Oceanworld in County Kerry.
Penelope and Missy, two gentoo penguins, are exhibiting all the signs of a courting couple in their sub-zero enclosure, which is a home to a dozen of the adorable birds.
“The thing penguins do to show they like each other is they bow to each other and they are doing that,” penguin keeper Kate Hall told the Irish Examiner.
“When they come into breeding season, they do it to the penguin of their choice and it reinforces the bond between them. It is very sweet to watch.”
So called gay penguins are recognized by their keepers when they display what they refer to as ‘ecstatic behavior,’ which described how they entwine their necks, vocalize to each other, and have sex.
Roy and Silo, the famous same sex penguin pair in Central Park Zoo in New York City, were the first gay penguin pair to come to the world’s attention. The pair proved so popular that a children’s book was later written about them titled "And Tango Makes Three," named after the chick they raised after their keeper gave them a fertile egg to successfully hatch.
Gay penguin couples have been observed worldwide, even becoming celebrated in countries where gay marriage and gay rights are far from accepted.
In fact penguins have been observed to engage in homosexual behavior since at least 1911. George Murray Levick, a no-nonsense British Antarctic explorer who documented their behavior famously described their mating habits as “depraved.”
Homosexual behavior had been documented in some 450 species. Exclusively gay penguin couples who have mated for years have been observed in the wild and in captivity from Denmark to Shanghai.