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Gay Penguins to Be Separated: Is This Homophobic?

Posted on the 10 November 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Gay penguins to be separated: Is this homophobic?

The gay penguins. At a Lady Gaga concert. Apparently. Taken from a Jimmy Kimmel sketch.

Pedro and Buddy, two male penguins at Toronto zoo, are being separated. The little critters are African penguins, and have sweetly shared the same nest for a year, leading to thoughts that they were gay. Cue jokes about “Brokeback Iceberg”. Now the zoo wants to split them up – so that they can mate – with females, though, because the species is endangered.

Perhaps they’re bi – Buddy, who’s 21, has already had a female partner. His much younger “partner” (cue jokes about Adam Werrity and Liam Fox), Pedro, is 10, and has yet to produce any penguinlets. Their keeper, Tom Mason, said that the bond was social but not necessarily sexual. The internet has gone mad over it.

“Penguins are so social they need that … company. And the group they came from was a bachelor group waiting for a chance to be paired up with females,” said Tom Mason, Toronto Zoo’s curator of birds and invertebrates.

Not if you were the last penguin on Earth. Gawker was particularly outraged (although it seems rather tongue-in-cheek), calling the zoo “gay hating”. And this in Canada, known for its tolerance! Maybe gay people are so “attractive, intelligent, stylish and gay” because they’re too good to pass on. It doesn’t matter about extinction: “They probably wouldn’t have sex with a woman if they were the last penguins on earth anyway.”

Let them marry! One blogger, Bill, on, said the separation was “unconscionable”, and that Toronto Zoo is “interfering with true love”. He also suggested that he wouldn’t rest until Canada allowed gay penguins to marry.

Here comes the science bit. Alex Needham on The Guardian said, a little more measuredly, that when they arrived at Toronto, Pedro and Buddy “only had eyes for each other”, even getting frisky with each other in “courtship behavior.” There are only 60,000 penguins left in the world, and the zoo is keen to pass on the penguin-genes of the pair. But people are anthropormorphising the cuddly chicks – look at Roy and Silo, the last pair of apparently gay penguins, who ended their relationship when Silo got it on with a female. Maybe the zoo is “preventing heartbreak down the line. Or rather, they’re just, you know, penguins.”

See the Jimmy Kimmel sketch here:

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