Same-sex penguin couple raising chick together at New York zoo

Posted at 4:31 PM, Feb 02, 2022

A pair of male penguins cared for an egg that hatched at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York. Now, the zoo says they will raise the chick together.

"The new chick hatched on January 1 to Elmer and Lima, two adult male Humboldt penguins who formed a pair bond for the current breeding season," the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo says at least two pairs of its penguins that breed have a history of inadvertently breaking their fertilized eggs. In an effort to give the chick a better chance at survival, they swapped the real egg with a dummy egg and gave the real one to the male couple to incubate.

“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,” said the zoo's director, Ted Fox. “That’s how we evaluate who will be good foster parents -- and Elmer and Lima were exemplary in every aspect of egg care.”

Elmer and Lima are not the first same-sex penguin couple to raise a chick. The zoo says a female pair of penguins at a zoo in Spain and male pairs in Berlin and San Francisco have also been successful parents.

“Elmer and Lima’s success at fostering is one more story that our zoo can share to help people of all ages and backgrounds relate to animals,” Fox said.