The gay penguins at Madrid's Zoo have finally been given the chance to become happy parents, as their keepers gave the pair an egg of their own to take care of, the Telegraph reported.
Inca and Rayas met six years ago at Faunia Park in Madrid, when they formed a close relationship, according to the Daily Mail. The two penguins have built a nest every year since, in the hopes of bringing a new baby penguin into the world.
“We wanted them to have something to stay together for — so we got an egg,” zookeeper Yolanda Martin told the Telegraph. “Otherwise they might have become depressed.”
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Martin told reporters that Inca has taken on the traditionally female role of incubating the donated egg, and has been sitting dedicatedly on his future offspring without leaving, even to take a swim, LGBTQ Nation reported. Rayas keeps watch on the nest and chases off any potential predators.
The pair's baby penguin is expected to hatch in June, and his keepers report that Rayas has become "a new penguin" in his nervous anticipation of the upcoming due date, according to the Telegraph.
“When you put things in captivity, odd things happen,” Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, told ABC News. “The way penguins work is they do get paired for a long time. Basically, the only other penguin they care about is their mate, so it’s important for them to find somebody who’s compatible, and if you don’t have a normal upbringing then it’s difficult to say how ‘normal’ they can be.”
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Though the pair's baby is causing a lot of excitement, it is not the first time that two male penguins have hatched an egg, the Daily Mail reported.
Two Chinese penguins, Adam and Steve, were given a young chick to care for because its mother was struggling to juggle caring for three children last year, according to the Daily Mail, and New York Central Zoo's Roy and Silo were given a rejected egg by their keepers after the pair attempted to hatch a stone.