A few years ago, there was a lot of debate around a penguin couple at the Central Park Zoo. The couple were clearly very much in love - at least as much as any penguin couple can be, and had been for years. They spent their days making love, singing sweet penguin nothings, and cuddling. They even raised a child - and did a "great job", according to their primary keeper, Rob Gramzay (as quoted in the San Fransisco Chronicle). But still people felt they should not be together, and even tried to ban the book in the gift store about their life. Why? Because Roy and Silo are both males.
Roy and Silo
From what I can tell, homosexuality is fairly common in penguins - in zoos, anyhow. There were at least four at the Central Park Zoo in the early 2000s, including lesbian as well as gay couples. Same-sex couples act in every way like female-male ones do. Many even 'adopt' rocks as if they were eggs, carefully incubating and monitoring the mineral foster children. When the Central Park Zoo gave Roy and Silo a fertilized egg to watch over, they reared it beautifully into a perfectly healthy and normal girl penguin.
Of course, Silo has since shown to be more of a 'bisexual' penguin than 'gay' one, and shacked up with a girl named Scrappy, much to the dismay of the heartbroken Roy, who spent a long time in a corner staring at the wall. Other gay penguins have proven to be more faithful. A group of homosexual penguins in Germany simply refused the luscious swedish babes that zookeepers tried to tempt them with.
Wendell and Cass
New York Aquarium's gay penguin couple, Wendell and Cass, were a perfect couple. Zookeepers set up a hutch for the pair, who never strayed from their 'marriage' (Cass has since pased away). The single (or trying to be) female penguins didn't even flirt with the couple, as if they somehow understood the boys wouldn't be interested. When other birds tried to take their nest, Cass fought them off. He was the one wearing the pants, according to staff biologists, protecting and nurturing the slightly eccentric Wendell.
And now, just like gay couples in America, it seems that gay penguins are upset about a lack of parental rights. A gay couple in China has resorted to stealing eggs and replacing them with rocks so they can raise a child together. The mischevious behavior has forced zookeepers to separate the pair from the group, who, go figure, aren't too pleased that their children are being stolen.
Is it discrimination to separate the gay couple? No, says the Chinese. "We have to fence them separately, otherwise the whole group will be disturbed during hatching time" the keepers said to the Austrian Times newspaper.
Well, it sounds to me like they just want what any couple wants - to be able to be with the one they love, live a life together, raise a family, and be left alone. After all, if Roy and Silo can do it (for six years anyhow), why can't they? I say give them an egg - there's bound to be an extra one lying around somewhere. Penguins often lay two eggs, but a couple really only has time and energy to raise one of them.
Some argue that the couple should be separated because homosexuality isn't "natural".
So is homosexuality "natural"? The short answer is Yes. Just ask biologist Joan Roughgarden, who talked to Seed Magazine in 2006. When Darwin hypothesized about sexual selection, he overlooked homosexuality, says Roughgarden. There are over 450 animals that are gay to some extent, and many go at in far more perverse ways than people do. That list even includes the Emperor penguins, heralded by Christians as the pillar of proper marital values.
Of course, it's a little tougher to determine whether the behavior is "natural" in penguins. The trouble with penguins is that you can't tell their sex by looks alone - their sexual organs are internal, and they look a lot alike. It's very hard to study homosexuality in the wild, so there's no real way to say whether its "natural" behavior. All the queer flightless fowl can do is hope that measures like proposition 8 don't apply to them and that the zookeepers and public let them be.
And, in the case of the queer thieves, let them have an egg, so they can satiate their biological need to raise a child. After all, they're just penguins. Who are we to judge?
Zoos are prisons for animals. Thus gay penguins
Power to the penguins!