Bonded Male Penguins Given Chick to Raise


Two bonded male penguins in a Chinese zoo have been given a baby chick to raise.

The couple, apparently notorious at the Harbin Polar Land Aquarium for trying to steal the eggs of other penguins, became surrogate parents after a female penguin at the zoo hatched two eggs. Given that penguins tend to have a better success rate with just one chick, staff thought that in order to give both chicks the best chance of survival it would be a good idea to split them up.

As such the infamous egg-stealing male couple seemed like ideal candidates for rearing one of the chicks, and zoo keepers are confident that, all being well, they will do a fine job.

From ABC:

“It’s a big job creating a baby penguin. It’s definitely a two-penguin job,” Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y., told


“The [heterosexual] pairs do a display of bringing a pebble, passing it back and forth. The interaction gets the birds going and synchronized for breeding season,” McGowan said.

“If [the 'gay' penguins] are doing the same kind of thing, they could be passing the pebble and ready to roll.”


While McGowan said there is no guarantee that the new parents in China will take to the chick, it is a likely possibility that they will not be able to resist.

“A begging baby is a strong stimulus for anyone,” McGowan said.

The irony of China making the headlines over this pair of bonded male penguins while LGBT rights remains a taboo in the country is lost on no one. The Chinese government has most recently had to answer accusations that it has been censoring China’s social networks and in particular any information relating to China’s LGBT community.

Our Chinese couple must share the limelight however, as they are in fact the second male penguin couple to hit the headlines in these past months.

Recently, the Internet was abuzz when Toronto Zoo announced that it planned to split up a penguin same-sex couple, Buddy and Pedro, so they might breed.

After a strong public outcry, including a petition signed by over 2,000 Care2 members, Toronto Zoo reassured the public that Buddy and Pedro would be reunited in the spring when they have been given the opportunity to further the struggling African chinstrap species.

Reintroducing the pair, however, does not guarantee they will bond again, so many still feel this forced separation to be unjust.

Related Stories:

Zoo Splits Up Gay Penguin Couple (Video)

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Penguins in Sweaters Update


Image is *not* of Harbin Polar Land Aquarium pair and is meant for illustration purposes only. Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Adam Foster.

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Dien L.
Dien L.3 years ago

Awwww!! Animals are just simply amazing!!

Shan D.
Shan D.3 years ago

Raising two in nature is difficult, but it can be done. There are penguins who, in nature, can adopt another egg if theirs dies (all it takes is accidentally allowing it to roll off the nest or the top of the male's feet so it breaks or freezes) and another couple has an extra (or they can steal one). And if these zoo penguins were stealing and passing pebbles, those are clear indicators that they *want* to raise a chick. Nobody is forcing them - they're doing this of their own free will.

Diane L.
Diane L.3 years ago

Shan, I tend to agree with you. What I don't understand is doing things that are excessive as far as trying to save both chicks. If in nature, raising two is not normal, then why not let nature take it's course? If this is a zoo, then do the parents have to risk their lives by going to sea to hunt fish nd return to the nesting site?

Are these penguins an endangered species? I don't think the fact these birds are both males means they're homosexual. They've just what? Male lions often form bonds and stick together into adulthood. So do male horses, and males of many species. And as was said, male penguins often take over the duties of raising chicks and alternate hunting duties with their mate.

Shan D.
Shan D.3 years ago

"Does this mean these 2 won't be separated? Why do they need to raise a chick. Why can't they be left alone and do what comes naturally for them?" - Dianne D. -

What do you *think* "comes naturally for them"? Hot, kinky gay penguin sex? Sheesh, raising a chick IS what they want to do! The brains of male penguins are hard-wired for nurturing eggs because after the female lays the egg, she has to go off to find food to regain her own strength before being able to care for a chick. During this time, the male penguin cares for the egg - keeping it warm, dry, and protected. After the chick hatches, the male still cares for it. Both parents feed the chick, giving it regurgitated food until the chick is old enough to find its own food. Penguin families are definitely a cooperative effort between two parents and the surrounding community. It really does take a family within a village to raise a penguin child.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan3 years ago

I hope they are succesful,then zoos won't feel the need to seperate two males and force them to breed.They can be left together to raise if they are willing.

Dianne D.
Dianne D.3 years ago

Does this mean these 2 won't be separated? Why do they need to raise a chick. Why can't they be left alone and do what comes naturally for them? Petitin signed on Dec. 9th

Adrianne P.
A P.3 years ago

I'm glad these penguins get to stay together. They are so cute.

Lara Kinast
Lara Kinast3 years ago

If only gay chinese humans got the same treatment! :)

Anne G.
Anne G.3 years ago


Martin Austin
Past Member 3 years ago

Funny the chinese normally treat animals very badly and have no animal welfare laws, so im suprised the penguins are still alive, but im glad they are, and im sure the chick will grow up fine