Last week, the Toronto Zoo announced that it planned to split up Buddy and Pedro, two penguins who have become inseparable. Now, the zoo says they’ll be back together by the springtime – but they may not rekindle their bond.
After a large public outcry, including a petition signed by nearly 1,500 Care2 members, the Toronto Zoo reassured fans that the penguins would be back together by spring. As soon as they mate with a female, the zoo said, they’ll have done their part to further the struggling African chinstrap species.
Tom Mason, the Toronto Zoo’s Curator of Invertebrates and Birds, told Pink News, “There will be a limited time of separation but it will not be permanent. No matter what happens all the penguins will be reunited by spring.”
Still, the idea of separating the two remains a painful one. As Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology told ABC News, “The way penguins work is they do get paired for a long time. Basically, the only other penguin they care about is their mate, so it’s important for them to find somebody who’s compatible.”
Unfortunately, reuniting the two lovebirds may not be as simple as returning them to the same pen. ABC News reports that Buddy and Pedro might be so shaken by their forced breeding process, they may elect to stay with their new female partners even after they’re allowed back together. Propagation of the species is a powerful draw, after all, even for penguins that originally preferred another male penguin. So if their female mates have an egg, Buddy and Pedro may reject each other in favor of taking care of their offspring.
Although it is somewhat reassuring that Buddy and Pedro won’t be separated forever, the Toronto Zoo’s decision to tear apart two birds who exhibit such devotion to each other is still baffling, especially considering penguins’ documented instances of same-sex preference and their tendencies to mate for life.
Even The Toronto Star is urging the Toronto Zoo to leave Buddy and Pedro to their penguin business.
Sign the petition to join in the fight — don’t separate Buddy and Pedro in the first place!