Gay Penguins Refuse Same Sex Mates

Posted on February 20, 2006

The AFP reports that several gay penguins at a zoo in Germany are refusing to mate with female penguins that zookeepers flew in from Sweden. The six male penguins have coupled and refuse to seperate -- despite efforst by the zookeepers. The zoo has been accused of trying to force the gay penguins to "choose" opposite sex partners.

The zoo has 10 male penguins of which six have shown strong signs of preferring male company and formed couples among themselves.

The initiative to "turn" the penguins and make them mate had prompted a furious response from gay rights groups.

In a statement posted on its Internet website, the zoo on Wednesday sought to defend itself from fresh criticism.

"We will be delighted if the penguins form even one heterosexual couple and manage to produce first an egg, and then a little one," it said.

"But of course we accept the male couples that have formed and we are not trying to enforce heterosexuality, as we were accused of doing last year."

New York also has a pair of gay penguins named Wendell and Cass that live at the New York Aquarium. The penguins stirred up a controversy in 2002 but gay animals are actually not unusual according to their keeper Stephanie Mitchell quoted in a CNS article.
This is not unusual. "There are a lot of animals that have same-sex relations, it's just that people don't know about it," Mitchell said. "I mean, Joe Schmoe on the street is not someone who's read all sorts of biology books."

One particular book is helpful in this case. Bruce Bagemihl's "Biological Exuberance," published in 1999, documents homosexual behavior in more than 450 animal species. The list includes grizzly bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls and even several species of salmon.

The German zookeepers may have to bring in a heterosexual penguin. It doesn't sound like they are going to be able to get any of the six gay penguins to mate with females.

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