Thursday, October 15, 2015

Same-sex penguin couple raising abandoned chick


Same-sex penguin pair Flip and Miley raise abandoned chick in co-parenting arrangement at the New Zealand National Aquarium in Napier.

A same-sex Hawke's Bay couple are putting aside their differences for the good of their adopted child, abandoned at birth by its biological mother.

The Little penguin couple, Flip and Miley, stepped up as foster parents for the un-named young bird at the National Aquarium in Napier nearly two weeks ago and despite a few personal issues they appeared to have agreed to work together and raise the chick.

Aquarist and keeper Rebekah Cuthbert said the female couple shared a burrow and took turns caring for and feeding the baby.
Female penguins Flip and Miley are working together to raise a chick at the National Aquarium in Napier.
                                                      JOHN COWPLAND

Female penguins Flip and Miley are working together to raise a chick at the National Aquarium in Napier.

While one looked after the chick the other took time out for herself, catching some sun, having a swim, visiting the neighbours and grabbing a bite to eat.

Cuthbert said Miley was fond of Flip, but the feeling didn't appear to be mutual. Despite this they appeared to be doing a good job of their new found responsibilities.
Miley was named after singer Miley Cyrus because she was a "strange bird", and Flip has a stump where one flipper should be.

Cuthbert said the chick would be cared for by its mothers until it reached 10 to 12 weeks old. By then it should be fully independent and ready to leave the couple's nest.
Same-sex penguin parents are rare, but not unheard of.

In 1999 Chinstrap penguins Roy and Silo raised a chick named Tango in New York's Central Park Zoo after spending some time exhibiting courting behaviour and last year female penguins Missy and Penelope from Dingle Oceanworld in Kerry Ireland paired up.

However both couples appeared to display courting rituals, different to the platonic Napier couple.
Next door to Miley and Flip another penguin pair was raising two chicks under two months old.
It was still too early to know the gender of the chicks, which had not been named, but they were about to join a rag-tag family of 13 adult penguins and bring the centre's population to 16.


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