Toronto Zoo mulls separating male penguin couple
The Toronto Zoo is mulling separating two male African penguins fearing that the odd couple's relationship could threaten the survival of the species at the local zoo.
Officials at the zoo in the northeast end of Toronto worry that Pedro, 10, and Buddy, 20 have developed a strong relationship that is keeping the endangered birds from breeding.
The curators said the decision to separate the pair is not an issue of homophobia, but more a matter of survival. With only six males and six females at the zoo at the present time, every successful heterosexual pairing is a matter of survival.
"We just need to have them meet some girls and do their thing," Tom Mason, one of the zoo's curators, told CTV News.
Although the two have shown no homosexual tendencies, they have developed a strong bond with one another, while shunning other females.
Mason said Buddy has mated and fathered babies in the past when he and a mate were together at a zoo in Rochester, NY. However, he was moved to a bachelor herd in Toledo, Ohio after his mate died where he bonded with Pedro.
The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that the world wide population for the African Penguin was about 179,000 at the end of the 1990s. It is now believed to be closer to 55,000.
This is not the first time that male penguins have developed strong bonds.
Two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan took up a nest together and have showed no interest in female companionship. Roy and Silo even adopted an abandoned egg and raised the chick as their own. The unique couple was also the subject of a children's storybook And Tango makes three.
In 2009, two adult male Humboldt penguins at a zoo in Bremerhaven, Germany adopted an egg that had been abandoned by its parents. The two males then raised the chick as their own.
Other same sex penguin couples have been noted in zoos and aquariums in the U.S., Europe and Japan.