Last winter, the two male penguins at the Madrid Zoo’s Faunia Park made headlines by entering into a rare, but not unheard of, ‘gay’ penguin relationship.
Every spring for six years Gentoo penguins Inca and Rayas have lovingly built a nest together, only to find that no eggs arrive to fill it, that’s how The Telegraph begins a touching story. Actually it couldn’t happes, since both of them are male.
Inca and Rayas have watched their neighboring penguins become parents and raise their young and they’ve clearly hoped for the same.
“They love each other as if they were male and female, courting each other the same,” one zoo staffer said. “But what they want is what they lack: to raise a chick.”
Their keepers couldn’t watch the pair’s disappointment any more and decided to gave them an egg of their own to care for.
According to Tree Hugger, one of the zoo’s breeding females had laid two eggs this season, one of which would have likely been abandoned. So the keepers decided to offer it to the hapless penguin pair.
One of the penguins, Inca, has taken on the “female” role of incubating the donated egg and stoically remains atop his prize for most of the day, refusing the temptation to dip his feathers into the water.
“Inca has yet to leave the nest. This is his first egg and he doesn’t want to drop it,” says the keeper. “He doesn’t move even while we offer the best fish in the world.”
His partner Rayas keeps a watchful guard over the nest while eating whatever he can fit in his beak in preparation for the traditional male job of feeding his young with regurgitated fish.
According to the keepers, at first Inca and Rayas looked a bit nervous to suddenly be with child, but it didn’t take long for them to welcome their new arrival with open wings, doting upon the adopted egg like any good expecting parents would.
Yolanda Martin, the keeper who cares for the pair, said: “We wanted them to have something to stay together for – so we got an egg. Otherwise they might have become depressed.”
Martin also emphasised that the penguins are not actually gay – they are just the best of friends.
The egg happily adopted by Inca and Rayas is expected to hatch within a week — bringing with it renewed hopes of survival for their threatened species, and a reminder that the fruits of love most often grow sweetest when given a chance to grow.
This is not the first story of that kind. Last year a penguin couple named Adam and Steve at a zoo in China were given a chick to look after.
One more “gay” relationships have not ended so happily as Buddy and Pedro, an two male pairing at Toronto Zoo were put in separate enclosures by keepers who thought they were not making a sufficient contribution to the gene pool.