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Same sex penguin 'super moms' start their own family

Meet the proud penguin parents, Electra and Viola

The documentary The Guys Next Door is about a gay couple who brought two children of their own into this world. The movie happens to be about my brother and his husband. Imagine the hurricane of guilt and conflict going on inside my head during the 30 seconds before I have to walk into a room and tell them they were just upstaged by two penguins.

Meet Electra and Viola. They are two female penguins, and a same-sex couple who call Oceanogràfic València aquarium their home, according to CBS News. The two penguins were given the opportunity to adopt an egg from another penguin couple. They incubated and hatched it with the same love and instinct any penguin couple shows. As reported by Oceanographic, the two started building a nest made out of stones before ever even receiving the egg. Upon observing this behavior, caregivers at the facility relocated a fertile egg from another couple, and presented it to Electra and Viola to call their own. They would take turns incubating the egg just as all penguins do, and are now the proud parents of their first baby calf.

Same-sex partnerships are not uncommon among penguins. As reported by Smithsonian Magazine in August of 2019, Skipper and Ping were two male penguins who showed the instinctual behaviors of a couple preparing for a family. After their move from Hamburg to Zoo Berlin, the two started incubating objects as if they were eggs. They tried everything from rocks to fish. I am assuming these fish were not alive. The couple got their chance when a 22-year-old female penguin, who had never raised a chick of her own abandoned her egg. The zookeepers noticed the care and attention the Skipper and Ping gave to everything they tried to incubate, and were confident the two would be excellent parents. As Maximillian Jäger told the New York Times, "We are sure they would be good parents because they were so nice to their stone."

And of course, who can forget Roy and Silo back in 1999 who are the OG's of same-sex penguin relationships. They showed the same behavior of trying to incubate stones. As in the other cases, the zookeepers gave them an egg from another penguin couple having trouble hatching their own egg. The two welcomed their first chick named Tango. As the years passed, the couple drifted apart (I am assuming they waited until Tango went to penguin college) and Silo eventually started spending time with a female penguin named Scrappy. The story inspired a children's book called And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell. I am assuming they left out the part about the break up.

Electra and Viola are just the latest example of same-sex relationships among animals. There are over 450 species, both in the wild and in zoos, that have displayed such behaviors. They are not the first and most certainly will not be the last. As far as my brother, his husband and their two kids go, they have a ways to go before they are upstaged by penguins. But in this case, I will give Electra and Viola their 15 minutes. Unless, of course they sign a movie deal. Then all bets are off.

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