The feathers were flying at one Danish zoo this week.
A same-sex penguin couple “kidnapped” a chick from another pair of birds within their home at Denmark’s Odense zoo this week.
The parenting scuffle went down while the baby penguin in question’s parents went for a swim in the creatures’ exhibit, Odense zookeeper Sandie Hedgegård Munck told Danish broadcaster DR.
According to Hedgegård Munck, the penguin pair decided the chick’s parents weren’t fit to look after the baby — and waited for the perfect moment to take action.
“The parents disappeared, and the kid was simply kidnapped,” the zookeeper told the outlet.
Hedgegård Munck places all blame for the animal miscommunication on the chick’s father.
“I know that the female is very caring for the kid, and she is also very aggressive to us animal lovers if we get too close to the chick,” Hedgegård Munck explained. “I think the female had been out to get her bath, and then it had been the male’s turn to care for the kid. He may have then left, and then the [gay] couple had thought, ‘It’s pity, we’ll take it.'”
One day later, the chick’s biological parents wanted their baby back. In a video posted on the Odense Zoo’s Facebook page, the parents can be seen confronting the baby’s new adoptive family, who protectively nuzzled the chick in between their legs.
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After their encounter turned physical, the chick was given back to his biological parents.
Nonetheless, the couple was rewarded for their paternal skills: They were given an egg from a female penguin that was unable to care for her child.
The happy pair aren’t the first same-sex penguin couple to want to start a family.
In 2004, the New York Times published a story about two chinstrap penguins who fell in love at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan.
The penguins, called Roy and Silo, “exhibit what in penguin parlance is called ‘ecstatic behavior’: that is, they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex,” the New York Times wrote at the time.
Like the Danish couple, Roy and Silo were desperate to have a baby, so they put a rock in their nest and sat on it.
Chief keeper Rob Gramzay noticed this and gave them a real egg that needed parents. Gramzay explained that Roy and Silo eventually welcomed baby Tango, who they cared for until she was old enough to be on her own.
Roy and Silo remained together for six years, but later split up. However, their story was even turned into the book And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.