Gay penguins to become dads after being given abandoned egg

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Two gay male emperor penguins are due to become parents for the first time after being given an abandoned egg to hatch.

Skipper and Ping, both aged 10, had longed for a baby and were previously seen trying to hatch stones and fish at Berlin Zoo.

This nurturing behaviour prompted zoo staff to give the couple a chance at becoming parents for real after an egg was abandoned by its mother.

As soon as the egg was placed in front of the pair they knew exactly what to do.

Zoo keeper Norbert Zahmel said: ‘We just had to put it in front of one of the males. He immediately knew what to do.

‘This is the first time we have tried to have a same-sex penguin couple incubate an egg.’

He added: ‘Both are looking after the egg in an exemplary manner.’

If all goes well the pair are expected to hear the pitter patter of tiny webbed feet in early September.

In the wild, heterosexual emperor penguin couples typically split incubation duties.

Skipper and Ping, who transferred from Hamburg Zoo last April, are the first same-sex couple to incubate an adopted egg in Berlin.

But the expectant dads will not be the first ever gay penguin parents.

In July, lesbian Gentoo penguins Marama and Rocky hatched an adopted egg at Sea Life in London.

The couple, who have been together for five years, successfully hatched the egg adopted from a single penguin mother who was struggling with the pressures of nurturing two chicks.

The new parents built the biggest nest in the colony to perform shifts looking after their newborn, giving the other a chance to swim and feed.

Penguins are said to mate for life and same-sex pairings have been observed both in the wild and in captivity.

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