Mating season is underway at the Sea Life Aquarium in Melbourne, where two groups of male gentoo penguins have mated, ready to welcome eggs.
- Gentoo penguins nest once a year, just before the start of spring
- Same-sex penguin pairs are not uncommon
- Both sexes penguins perform mating season work
While most of the aquarium’s penguins have teamed up during mating season, Tiger and Branston, along with Jones and Klaus, have taken the plunge this year.
“So we started setting up our nests not too long ago, a few weeks ago,” Nicola Saville, senior bird keeper at Sea Life Melbourne, told ABC News Breakfast.
“We noticed that our two groups of boys had started to mate in their small areas, and they actually settled right next to each other.”
Are same-sex penguin pairs rare?
Ms Saville said same-sex penguin pairs were not uncommon.
“But it’s kinda rare that we have two same-sex couples,” she said.
“They are young couples [and] they have just started to participate in the breeding season. That’s why everything is new and fresh, very exciting. “
Ms Saville said same-sex couples couldn’t lay eggs, but would make their own nests.
“Then if we need them for host families, which we sometimes do, we can use them as host pairs,” she said.
“If not, then they just have their little nest for the breeding season.”
Do penguins mate for life?
Not quite, according to Ms. Saville.
“They tend to be monogamous throughout a season,” she said.
“So our couples will now tend to be together for a season. But sometimes they change. “
Gentoo penguins nest once a year, just before the start of spring.
Who builds the nests?
When it comes to parental responsibility, Gentoo penguins do not have fixed gender roles.
“[For] penguins, both parents will participate in the entire nesting season, ”said Ms. Saville.
She said the nesting season’s work included collecting stones, incubating eggs and rearing the young.
Ms Saville said the gentoo penguins at the aquarium have started to create their nests for this season.
“They happen for about a month and then we start to see eggs being laid and they incubate them for 30 days,” she said.
“Around the time we start to see spawns, we’ll see if same-sex couples are a good couple. “