By Bil Browning
Sphen and Magic, the gay penguin couple from Australia that captured the world’s heart, celebrated their third anniversary at Sydney’s SEA LIFE Aquarium.
The male couple, who have hatched two eggs together, enjoyed frozen fish cakes for dinner and held a party with their neighbors in the enclosure.
The two male penguins successfully hatched an egg two years ago and raised the chick, Lara, into adulthood.
Zookeepers gave them the egg when they noticed the pair making a clutch right on time for the spring/summer mating season. Gay penguin couples are frequently given eggs that other penguin parents aren’t caring for or if multiple eggs are laid by one pair of birds.
“If one of our pairs has too many eggs or are not good at looking after their eggs, we will sometimes foster these eggs out to other pairs like Sphen and Magic. We gave Sphen and Magic an egg to incubate as they have proven to be good parents in the past,” a spokesperson for the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium said.
The zoo’s penguin supervisor Tish Hannan said, “They have the neatest and largest nest in the colony and when we noticed that another couple were struggling to incubate two eggs at the same time, we made the decision to foster the second egg to the power couple of the colony.”
“Just like our other Gentoo parents, Sphen and Magic are attentive and incredibly caring and we feel privileged to have such an amazing duo in our colony.”
Lara is likely to hatch her own egg soon now that she’s old enough; it would make the duo the first gay penguin grandparents.
The couple also hatched another egg last year, introducing the world to their son, Clancy.
Of course, Sphen and Magic aren’t the first pair of same-sex penguin parents ever to grace a zoo. There are also Thelma and Louise, two lesbian penguins raising a chick together in a New Zealand zoo; Eduardo and Rio, the surrogate penguin dads at the San Francisco zoo; and Inca and Rayas, a pair of Gentoo penguin parents at Madrid’s Faunia Park Zoo.
Some zoos have even started celebrating their same-sex penguin couples as a way to gain public interest: The London Zoo had their gay penguins celebrate Pride in 2020 and the Heythrop Zoo in Oxfordshire helped throw a lavish English countryside wedding for their same-sex penguin couple, Ferrari and Pringle.