A pair of male black swans at Melbourne Zoo are practising their parenting skills after the gay swans coupled up and built a nest together.
Black swans Billy and Elliot are long-term residents of Melbourne Zoo. The zoo rescued both of them after suffering dog attacks in the wild.
The two swans now live on the billabong at the zoo’s Australian Bush habitat.
Melbourne Zoo has shared that the two males felt “frisky” over spring and started courting each other.
“This is something you do see in wild swans. Two boys can pair up,” bird keeper Ben Oliver explained.
“This got the bird team thinking about ways we could provide an opportunity to have reproductive behaviour as part of their behavioural repertoire.
“As well as courtship behaviours, Billy and Elliot have also constructed a wonderful nest on the edge of their Billabong. We wanted to provide them with some eggs.”
A zoo volunteer, Guy, fired up his 3D printer and created a “clutch” of dummy eggs the same size and weight as real swan eggs.
The keepers placed the eggs in the nest, and gay swans Billy and Elliot’s “innate fatherly instincts” kicked in.
The pair were very protective of the eggs, checking on them and honking to scare off potential threats. Guy explained that’s “really important behaviour” for the birds.
“The eggs aren’t necessarily just about making babies. They’re actually a part of the behaviours that are being built into those birds,” Guy said.
But Ben said the gay swans didn’t sit on the eggs this year.
“It’s something that we’re still gonna keep working on and we’re going to offer to them again next season,” he said.
For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagra