- Electra and Viola are the latest in a long line of famous same-sex penguin couples.
A same-sex penguin couple have become parents after adopting an egg.
Electra and Viola are part of a colony of 25 Gentoo penguins at the Oceanogràfic aquarium in Valencia, Spain.
And when keepers saw they were broody, they gave them an egg from another couple to take care of.
Now that egg has hatched – although the aquarium is yet to name the chick.
The pair join opposite-sex penguin couples Navi and Aquela and Bolo and Melibea who have also raised chicks this breeding season.
But the aquarium called Electra and Viola an ‘exceptional pair’.
It added: ‘Electra and Viola are female and have been able to adopt, hatch and raise an egg from another couple, something that’s happened for the first time at the Oceanogràfic.’
Before getting the egg, the couple engaged in mating rituals, including building a nest out of pebbles.
A world of same-sex penguin couples
However, while this is the first time Valencia has observed the phenomenon, it is not uncommon.
Indeed, Electra and Viola are just the latest in a long line of famous penguin parents from zoos and aquariums all around the world.
Experts estimate that anything from 5% to 10% of penguins in zoos around the world are in same-sex pair bonds.
Moreover, in February 2019, two humboldt penguins, Ferrari and Pringle, even got married in England. The ceremony – or press stunt – in Chipping Norton made headlines around the world.
Why some animals are gay or bi
Homosexuality and bisexuality exists in almost all – if not all – animal species. Though, of course, homophobia and biphobia are only seen in one.
Giraffes are most likely to display same-sex attraction.
However scientists have observed gay sex in everything from bugs to bats and flamingos to killer whales.
Any animal from the smallest fruit fly to the largest elephant may take part. Moreover, around 60% of sex in bonobo chipanzees, our closest animal relatives, is gay.
There are many reasons why homosexuality comes naturally to animals.
Some species have an exclusively same-sex phase at some point in their lives – though they won’t always stay ‘gay’ forever. Others are completely bisexual.
A lot of species have a harem system and junior males, filled with testosterone, turn to each other while the dominant male controls the females. Sometimes it’s the ruling female stopping her competitors from mating.
There are also times when it seems like it might be a mistake – frogs in the mating season often attempt to have sex with the first stranger they see.
Scientists speculate that same-sex attracted ‘uncles’ and ‘aunts’ help other members of their family group raise young. This passes on their genes indirectly.
Another theory suggests that same-sex activity helps animals learn how to mate – making them better at it.