Adorbs! Gay Penguin Dads in Syracuse Hatch Chick

Wednesday February 2, 2022
Originally published on February 2, 2022

Two male Humboldt penguins in Syracuse's Rosamond Gifford Zoo have hatched their first chick, becoming the latest same-sex penguin family to welcome an adorable new addition, The New York Post reported.

The article said it's a "first" for both the zoo and for proud penguin papas Elmer and Lima.

"The zoo has relied on foster parent penguins to incubate eggs in the past as a way to increase the odds of hatching a chick," the Post related, going on to say that "female penguin Poquita and her mate Vente laid a viable egg on Dec. 23, which was swapped for a dummy egg. The viable egg was given to Elmer and Lima, which were deemed a more successful pair, to incubate."

The zoo's Director, Ted Fox, explained in a statement what it is that the zoo looks for in good penguin parents.

"Some pairs, when given a dummy egg, will sit on the nest but leave the egg to the side and not incubate it correctly, or they'll fight for who is going to sit on it when," Fox said. "That's how we evaluate who will be good foster parents — and Elmer and Lima were exemplary in every aspect of egg care."

The couple remain exemplary in caring for the chick, which hatched on Jan. 1. Fox detailed that at the age of five days, the chick "weighed 226 grams (8 ounces)," and added that the bundle of joy "continues to be brooded and cared for by both Elmer and Lima, who are doing a great job. And once they have experience doing this and continue to do it well, they will be considered to foster future eggs."

Same-sex penguin couples in zoos and aquariums around the world have been hatching and caring for chicks for decades, and have proven to be excellent parents. Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins who lived at the Central Park Zoo in New York, are perhaps the world's most celebrated penguin family, having hatched and cared for a chick named Tango. Their story was told in 2005 in the best-selling — and perennially challenged — children's book "And Tango Makes Three."

More recently, Sphen and Magic, a pair of male Gentoo penguins at the SEA LIFE Aquarium in Sydney, Australia, became repeat celebrities, welcoming their second chick in November of 2020. This past November, the couple celebrated their third anniversary together.

Same-sex penguin couples, like their mixed-gender peers, often remain together for years, if not for life.