Bil Browning

Toronto Zoo to Separate Gay Penguins

Filed By Bil Browning | November 09, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: African Jackass Penguins, Buddy and Pedro, gay penguins, Toronto Zoo

With news that the Toronto Zoo is planning to separate famous gay penguins Buddy and Pedro, the LGBT blogosphere has exploded. The two are African Jackass Penguins - an endangered species.

The two penguins have been bonded for years now, but the zoo says they will attempt to get the two to mate with female penguins in an attempt to increase the population. I guess they've never heard of artificial insemination...


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Gnome (Gay National Organization for Marriage Equality) needs to fight this.

The reason why they haven't used artificial insemination for penguins is because it's not a reliable method of reproduction nor is it a practical one in penguin species.

Also, the zoo has gone on record stating that they pair couples up and split other ones up all the time based on genetic diversity, because the species is so close to extinction and maximizing genetic diversity is paramount if the species should survive and flourish. The zoo often splits up couples if they are too closely related, pairing them with other penguins and constantly map out the genetics from the pairings. In this instance both Buddy and Pedro were deemed to have genes critical to the success of the survival of the species. If they didn't, they stated that they wouldn't have bothered splitting them up. on top of that, after they breed, they'll be put back together and left to pick up their pairing if they still want to.

I get why this is so touchy, but I feel more and more that this is an issue where the pro-gay blogosphere is becomign histerical and out of touch with reality, making themselves out to be more and more foolish. This isn't people splitting up gay penguin couples because they're anti-gay or because they just have nothing better to do than reinforce gender norms.

The reality is that this species is down to about 60,000 down from about 225,000 10 years ago. If survival of the species is a serious issue, then as much genetic diversity as possible needs to be passed on and since artificial insemination is NOT an option and the two penguins have important genes to contribute, this has to happen.

So we can enjoy our gooey feelings about gay penguin couples and add allow another nail in the coffin of the species as a whole, or we can allow these penguins to contribute their DNA, just as all the other African penguins are forced to, in the most effective means available and deal with it, and feel better that an entire species has a better chance of not being wiped out and that Pedro and Buddy will be free to pick up their pairing afterward.

I think it is busted in itself to project human identity politics on critters that can't speak for themselves.

Not to mention the bisexual erasure that goes into describing any same sex pairbond as "gay." This would/will not work if the penguins were "gay."

Thank you. Lost in all of this is the fact that penguins do in fact split up and have been or go on to pairings with opposite-sex penguins. Buddy had paired with a female for a while before pairing up with Pedro. Likewise, Roy and Silo split up eventually, too, with Silo pairing with a female, Scrappy.

In the captive breeding program for this species (and other endangered species we have difficulties artificially inseminating), zookeepers regularly have to assign mates to prevent a genetic bottleneck. The Toronto Zoo will allow these penguins to pair bond with whomever they wish after the mating season.

Jaime Dunaway Jaime Dunaway | November 9, 2011 12:04 PM

Are they really gay or just close platonic friends that do everything together, like Bert and Ernie?

Here is a perfect opportunity for the LGBT blogosphere to show that we can respect the facts of science better than certain other segments of the political landscape can (can you spell "Bible thumpers"?) ... The biological demand here is not that different from European royals who sometimes had to mate against their fondest romantic feelings in order to produce future heirs to a throne -- and sometimes such practicalities do happen along in life.

I think we should quit making such a big deal out of this. Speaking of royalty -- with all the professional care and attention they are getting, Buddy and Pedro probably never had it so good!

Om Kalthoum | November 9, 2011 3:19 PM

Why don't we leave it to the African Jackass Penguin experts to determine if the world needs more little jackass penguins? Until I see good evidence that this is all an anti-gay plot by Canuck homophobes, I'm all for having those birds give the hetero thing another whirl. After all, it's not like they're being forced to copulate. If they turn up their beaks at the girl birds again, and they're forced to endure their presence year after year, then we can go hold a demonstration or something. In the summer, I hope, not the winter.

Regarding Bil's suggestion of artificial insemination, I don't know if collecting penguin ejaculate is the same, but here's one way to do it with geese:
No jokes about goosing a goose allowed.

I was actually relieved to learn this. With some other animals there are rods and rectums (or cloacas) and electric currents involved.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | November 9, 2011 3:54 PM


Alarmed by this development, Indiana sponsors of HJR-6, a proposed amendment to Indiana's constitution that would ban same sex marriages or anything remotely looking like them, huddled to consider asking Governor Mitch Daniels to call a special session to propose a companion measure:

"Marriage in Indiana shall continue to exclude non-human species, including but not limited to penguins, even those of the opposite sex. And while we're at it, penguins shall not be considered "persons" regardless of how soon after conception they may discover an affinity for their own gender. This provision shall not be construed to deny penguin corporations the "person" status which the Supreme Court has delared for all corporations in 'Citizens United' "

If they weren't endangered there'd be a reason for alarm. As it stands, though, well, I guess someone could make the argument that biodiversity is being reduced at such an alarming rate that trying to save one species shouldn't be more of a priority than two birds being happy. But let them try.

As for artificial insemination, usually with penguins I thought they just gave rejected eggs to gay couples. Of course, I learned everything I know about penguins from And Tango Makes Three.