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Gay Penguins Prove That Love Is Winning

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Fifteen hundred or so species of animals - such as dolphins, sheep and those bisexual bonobos - have, let's say, gay tendencies. Same-sex romantic couples are particularly common among birds, in species from the albatross to the zebra finch. None, however, have quite captured our hearts like gay penguins.

Aurora Wells/The Dodo (Shutterstock)

Most memorably, crowds flocked to the Central Park Zoo for a chance to spot Roy and Silo, a pair of male chinstrap penguin lovers who famously adopted an egg and raised a daughter, Tango, together. Their six-year relationship ended when Silo left Roy, who was heartbroken, for a lady penguin named Scrappy in 2005. Roy and Silo inspired polarized political debate and (highly censored) children's books alike.

But these famous lovebirds weren't the first gay penguin couple - not even at their own zoo (that would be Georgey and Mickey, two lady gentoos). Documentation of penguin homosexuality (or, at least, heteroflexibility) goes back to 1911, when a British Antarctic expedition detailed the "depravity" of the Adélie penguins - though this scandalous report was only brought to light in 2012.

Chinstrap penguins in Antarctica (Shutterstock)

Since Roy and Silo rocked the world with their romance, however, queer penguin love stories in zoos and aquariums have been making headlines around the globe. Of course, the only thing "depraved" or unnatural about these loving couples is that they are forced to live behind glass walls. Still, despite being denied all the freedom of the sea, these lucky birds found each other - and that's something to celebrate.

Wendell and Cass

African penguins (Shutterstock)

It was love at first sight for Wendell and Cass, a dapper pair of African black-footed penguins who met at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn. The smitten, tuxedoed couple was simply "known for a tidy nest and enduring lust" before blood work revealed them both to be male, a zookeeper explained to Salon. Penguins, you see, cannot be sexed with the naked eye.

By then - around the time Roy and Silo began their highly publicized love affair in the early 2000s - Wendell and Cass had been together for over a decade. Unlike media darlings Roy and Silo, however, Wendell and Cass remained inseparable until Cass' death in 2004.

Buddy and Pedro

African penguin couple (Shutterstock)In 2011, the Toronto Zoo came under fire for separating Buddy and Pedro, male African penguin sweeties, to set them up with female penguins to breed. The following year, however, Pedro and his assigned partner did not produce eggs, while Buddy and his gal "built a nest that was too tight and accidentally smothered the chicks," The Star reported.Alternately, gay penguin couples who have been allowed to adopt eggs or chicks (from straight penguins who ditched them, no less) have proved to be diligent parents - like Roy and Silo, or Germany's Z and Vielpunkt. Last year, domestic penguin partners Jumbs and Kermit became "the best penguin parents" at their zoo, reported the BBC.Gay penguins who adopted a chick at a Denmark zoo (imgur/defeatedhorizon)Missy and PenelopeThe latest penguin celesbians are Missy and Penelope, two gentoo girls at a zoo in Ireland who turn their beaks up at the boys. Together, the couple tenderly cares for eggs that, sadly, aren't likely to hatch. Another Sapphic penguin couple, Chupchikoni and Suki, have been happily nesting together at an Israeli zoo for years.While Roy and Silo's dramatic breakup was all over the news, there's a lesser-known, happier ending to their story. Their daughter, Tango (who likely would not have been born without her adoptive dads), fell in love with another female penguin at the Central Park Zoo, Tanuzi. As far as we know, Tango and Tanuzi have been together ever since.

African penguin couple (Shutterstock)

In 2011, the Toronto Zoo came under fire for separating Buddy and Pedro, male African penguin sweeties, to set them up with female penguins to breed. The following year, however, Pedro and his assigned partner did not produce eggs, while Buddy and his gal "built a nest that was too tight and accidentally smothered the chicks," The Star reported.

Alternately, gay penguin couples who have been allowed to adopt eggs or chicks (from straight penguins who ditched them, no less) have proved to be diligent parents - like Roy and Silo, or Germany's Z and Vielpunkt. Last year, domestic penguin partners Jumbs and Kermit became "the best penguin parents" at their zoo, reported the BBC.

Missy and Penelope

The latest penguin celesbians are Missy and Penelope, two gentoo girls at a zoo in Ireland who turn their beaks up at the boys. Together, the couple tenderly cares for eggs that, sadly, aren't likely to hatch. Another Sapphic penguin couple, Chupchikoni and Suki, have been happily nesting together at an Israeli zoo for years.