Lesbian penguins are this mating season’s hot new couple

Lesbian penguin couple Marama and Rocky

Mating season is underway for the Gentoo penguins at the London’s Sea Life aquarium, and two lesbian penguin couples have already got together.

The two couples – Marmalade and Chickpea and Marama and Rocky – have begun courting by bringing pebbles to each other as gifts, which will later be used to build their nests.

Same-sex relationships are not uncommon among penguins, and some couples will even adopt eggs neglected by their straight penguin neighbours.

Sea Life manager Catherine Pritchard told the BBC: “Without a doubt, our Gentoo penguins are one of our most loved creatures and we’re so pleased that we’re able to reopen our doors in time for guests to be able to witness their amazing courtship rituals.

“Gentoo penguins are the ultimate romantics, and their dating techniques are truly unique – so much so that as humans, we could certainly learn a thing or two from their passion and commitment to finding a mate.

“As well as our male-female penguin couples, this breeding season we also have two female same-sex couples who are also going through their nesting rituals.”

The aquarium, which will open to the public again on Monday (17 May) as coronavirus restrictions ease, is keeping a close eye on the penguin romance, weighing the penguins and assessing their nest-building.

Pritchard added: “Our expert care team are monitoring the penguins’ progress and we’re hoping that we’re lucky enough to add a new chick to the colony when we welcome guests back.”

While Marmalade and Chickpea are a new lesbian penguin couple, Marama and Rocky are remaining committed to each other this mating season after already raising a chick together.

During Pride month 2019, the couple hatched an egg given to them by staff after another penguin mother couldn’t handle the pressure of two babies.

Sea Life’s Graham McGrath said: “Marama and Rocky have taken to becoming parents like ducks to water – or should I say penguins.

“Caring for a newborn is tough for anyone, from the sleepless nights to the constant feeding, yet this wonderful pair of penguin parents are completely unflappable and seem to be taking it all in their stride.”