MORE than half of the penguins at an aquarium in Dingle, Co. Kerry are said to be in same-sex relationships and raising chicks.
Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium has confirmed that out of the 14 Gentoo penguins they have, eight are in same-sex relationships: two male couples and two female couples.
Speaking to the Irish Mirror, animal manager Louise Overy said: “You cannot tell a male penguin from a female by their sexual organs, so the only way we know is when we see them mating and not producing chicks.
“Possessing the same maternal instincts as humans, lesbian females will waddle over to males and “do what needs to be done” when they feel broody, and raise their chick with a female partner,” she added.
“While it’s not unusual for penguins to be gay, having such a high proportion in one place is unusual,” Overy said.
Bizarrely enough, the number of penguins in same-sex relationships has quadrupled ever since Ireland legalised same-sex marriage.
“We had a gay couple here before,” Overy added.
“Five years ago Penelope and Misty got plenty of coverage but we never expected it to catch on.”
Homosexuality in penguins has made international headlines in the past.
In 2004 a gay penguin couple in New York were the subject of a feature on their relationship which began in 1998 at Central Park Zoo.
The birds engaged in the same mating rituals as straight penguin couples would, and after zookeepers observed them trying to hatch a rock, they were given a baby penguin to raise.
Penguins woo each other by collecting pebbles and gifting them to each other. These pebbles are then used to build a nest, which I suppose is a lot cheaper than a diamond ring and a deposit on a house!