Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Dingle's lesbian penguins pair off in same-sex couple first for aquarium in Ireland

Penelope (left) and Missy are believed to be Ireland's first gay penguin couple, after they started exhibited classic courting behaviour

An aquarium in the Republic of Ireland has welcomed what is believed to be one of the world’s only lesbian penguin couples, after keepers observed two females exhibiting courting behaviour.

Missy and Penelope, who are six and seven years old respectively, were thought to be Ireland’s first ever same-sex penguin couple.

They were among five couples who have paired off for the breeding season at Dingle Oceanworld in Kerry, according to reports in the Irish Examiner.

Other gay penguin couples have achieved worldwide fame, including Roy and Silo in New York’s Central Park Zoo and a King penguin pair who became adoptive fathers of a chick from an abandoned egg.

Dingle Oceanworld’s head penguin keeper Kate Hall said that while male same-sex couples are not unheard, it is rare for two female penguins to pair off.

“The ones in Central Park are icons for the gay community over there,” said Ms Hall. “They have a lot of fondness and affection for them.

“It’s definitely not an unusual occurrence although this time it’s two females.”

She said Missy and Penelope have been displaying all the signs of a courting couple in their enclosure, which is home to a dozen of the black and white creatures.

“The thing penguins do to show they like each other is they bow to each other and they are doing that.

“When they come into breeding season, they do it to the penguin of their choice and it reinforces the bond between them.

“It is very sweet to watch.”

On Dingle Oceanworld’s website, Missy is described as “a fun loving girl, confident and brave”.

Penelope, meanwhile, “is a bit shy but absolutely loves swimming, preening, and keeping herself looking clean and beautiful”.

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