Sydney’s gay penguin dads still inseparable on their third anniversary


sydney sea life sphen and magic gay penguins chicks sea life sydney
Image: Sea Life Sydney

Sydney’s gay penguin power couple Sphen and Magic are celebrating their third anniversary and are still inseparable, their aquarium says.

The same-sex penguin pair went viral in 2018 when staff at Sydney’s Sea Life Aquarium announced the monogamous males had paired up.

The duo made headlines around the world after hatching two chicks together at the Darling Harbour aquarium.

The first chick they hatched was named Lara by carers. Last year, they fostered a second egg which they hatched in November 2020.

The aquarium team named that chick Clancy. The two male penguins have been together for three years.

Now to celebrate Sphen and Magic’s anniversary, the couple and their neighbours in the Sydney colony are enjoying a frozen fish cake together.

SEA LIFE’s penguin keeper Kiera Ponting says it’s the aquarium’s fourth penguin breeding season. And she and her team are “thrilled” to see the devoted pair Sphen and Magic still together.

“Magic still regularly collects the most perfect pebble that he can find for Sphen, displaying what a great hunter and partner he can be,” Ponting said.

“They set a great example to the rest of the colony. They’re inseparable and proving just how strong penguin bonds can be.

“We’ve noticed many of the newer penguin couples setting up their nests close to Sphen and Magic, which we think is them trying to learn from the best.”

Sydney gay penguins Sphen and Magic build another nest together

Sphen and Magic aren’t be fostering a real egg this season, but the pair have built a nest and are still minding an artificial egg.

Sydney’s Sea Life team also want the two love birds to help raise awareness of their species.

Gentoo penguins face a wide variety of threats in the wild, like plastic pollution and changing environments.

Same-sex penguin pairings are surprisingly common.

During the aquarium’s 2018 breeding season, the staff saw Sphen and Magic bowing to each other – a common way of showing love.

The two males also presented stones to each other – another form of affection – and built an ice pebble nest together for breeding.

Gentoo penguins typically lay two eggs but can often only care for one. So Sea Life Sydney staff gave spare eggs to Sphen and Magic, which the pair twice cared for and hatched.

Sea Life Sydney explained the quickly-maturing Lara took part in her first breeding season last year, learning nest-building and practicing incubation.

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