"Gay penguins" separation at Toronto Zoo sparks furor
African penguins (Spheniscus demersus), also known as Black-footed Penguin, are pictured at Table Mountain National Park between Simon's Town and Cape Point, near Cape Town, in South Africa, on July 4, 2010.
November 10th, 2011
02:38 PM ET

"Gay penguins" separation at Toronto Zoo sparks furor

Editor's Note: The following text is from GlobalPost, which provides excellent coverage of world news – importantmoving and just odd.

A decision by the Toronto Zoo to separate a pair of male penguins, dubbed the "gay penguins," has sparked an international outcry.

The African penguins, named Buddy and Pedro, formed a close bond while part of a "bachelor flock" at Pittsburgh’s National Aviary, Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail reported.

The penguins remained close when transferred to the Toronto Zoo, and displayed courtship and mating behavior towards each other. Because of this they were dubbed the "gay penguins," although zoo keepers said their relationship was not necessarily sexual.

“It’s a complicated issue, but they seem to be in a loving relationship of some sort,’’Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto Zoo's board, told the Toronto Star.

The decision to separate Buddy and Pedro was taken because the zoo wanted to breed the endangered animals and spread their good genes. But the splitting up of the "gay penguins" has resulted in a backlash from around the world, the Globe and Mail said.

According to the newspaper:

Reaction has included much ribald humor, including comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s reference to “Brokeback Iceberg," but many are fiercely critical of the zoo’s decision.

It has been called unfair and heart-breaking. Others still are accusing the zoo of attempting to force the penguins into the “patriarchal sex-trade industry”.

The story has been covered in the British and US press, with the Guardian wondering if it was homophobic to separate the penguins, while the website Gawker sarcastically called Canada “evil and homophobic."

Tom Mason, the Toronto Zoo's curator of birds and invertebrates, told the National Post that with African Penguins on the edge of extinction, the zoo must encourage mating.

“If [Pedro and Buddy] weren’t genetically important, then we’d let them do their thing,” Mason told the newspaper.

The Toronto Zoo said that once the penguins have mated, they will be reunited.

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Topics: Animals • Odd

soundoff (16 Responses)

    gay penguins...whats next a lesbian seals

    November 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  2. CarlH

    this is the stupidest overreaction. so lame. poor penguins.

    November 10, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I agree!

      November 11, 2011 at 9:29 am | Reply
  3. Pickle_lilly

    Wouldn't they need to be even just a teensy bit bi in order to successfully go take one for the team ?

    November 11, 2011 at 1:27 am | Reply
  4. Gabor47

    "But the splitting up of the "gay penguins" has resulted in a backlash from around the world, "

    This is sick.

    November 11, 2011 at 2:41 am | Reply
  5. BZ

    There is no "furor". People are talking about it to be sure, and finding humor in the situation; but it's hardly a "furor" except as an invention of the Globe and Mail as a way of stirring the pot.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:28 am | Reply
    • Dee G

      And you know this, how? Have you taken it upon yourself to go out and survey the world??

      July 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Reply
  6. starr

    what the heck!!!!!!!! gay penquens!

    November 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  7. ad

    evolution says survive and reproduce. how does evolution select a behavior that doesn't allow reproduction?

    November 11, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Reply
    • Molly Winston

      Evolution favors preservation of the species, not necessarily abundant reproduction. Preserving static numbers ensures enough resources are available for all. Thinning the herd is also advantageous at times, from an evolutionary standpoint. I am speaking strictly of animals, not humans. However, the same principles hold largely true among humanity. Not advocating for anyone to actively thin the herd, but nature sometimes does that for us.

      November 11, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Reply
    • Kris


      July 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  8. Blessed Geek

    "The decision to separate Buddy and Pedro was taken because the zoo wanted to breed the endangered animals and spread their good genes."

    Do the good genes include the gay gene?

    November 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  9. rex edie

    looks like everyone here has taken some logic in there thinking process.... the reality is....these are just a couple of poor creatures that are stuck in a man made....unatural environment...the only thing they have is each other... give them a break... let them live their days with some kind of companionship.... as for humans.... too bad we have to be so unkind in just about everything we do.....

    November 13, 2011 at 10:59 am | Reply
  10. Jack

    i blame all of the political dikes

    November 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  11. Marti

    Humans created this companionship by putting the birds in an all male environment. It is common knowledge that male birds will bond to other male birds when there are no females present. If they wanted breeding birds then they should have kept them in mixed company now shouldn't they? Now, they should honor the bond that they created or expose them to females in a manner that allows the bird to choose and not the humans.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply

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