Buddy and Pedro, a “gay” penguin couple at the Toronto Zoo that are being separated so they can mate with female penguins, will be reunited in the spring, zoo officials said.
The African penguins have shared the nest they built since coming to the zoo about a year ago. But since the penguins are an endangered species, with fewer than 250,000 remaining, zoo officials said they had to separate the couple so they could perform reproductive duties.
Buddy, 20, and Pedro, 10, came from a zoo in Toledo, Ohio, where they were part of an all-male flock. Their affection has drawn headlines and jokes about “Brokeback Iceberg”
The pair has what’s known as a “social bond,” but it’s not necessarily sexual, Tom Mason, the zoo’s curator of birds and invertebrates, said. The mating behaviors that Buddy and Pedro exhibit include making a “braying” sound, similar to a donkey, as a mating call. They stand alone together, defend their territory and groom each other.
The zoo has received hundreds of calls about the pair. Mason said he even got a call from someone claiming to represent a group called the Canadian Society for Gay Animals. Such a group could not be located.
The story of the same-sex pair has gone viral online, leading to cheeky YouTube videos. Late-night TV comics have jumped into the icy waters of penguin passion. Jimmy Kimmel riffed on the story during a recent monologue, calling it “Brokeback Iceberg” and claiming the lovebirds were spotted at a Lady Gaga concert.
It is not unusual for some animal species to show signs of homosexuality. Giraffes, monkeys and dolphins have all been known to bond with animals of the same sex.