Can Penguins Be Gay Or Lesbian? Do They Mate With Same Sex?

Penguins are incredible creatures that are known for their pair bonding, parenting, and courtship displays around the world.

One of the prominent discussions that come along with these features is whether penguins exhibit homosexual behavior.

With the increasing number of zoos and aquariums that headline gay or lesbian couples, it becomes an even more intriguing subject for people.

To help you know whether penguins can be gay or lesbian, below is a detailed compilation of all the information related to the same.

Can penguins be gay or lesbian? Do penguins of the same sex mate?

Penguins can be gay or lesbian as they have been observed to exhibit homosexual traits. Numerous species of the bird have been proclaimed to have formed same-sex pairs, especially in captivity.

Same-sex penguin pairs are seen involved in courtship displays and mating, specifying that penguins of the same sex mate.

Some Examples of some popular gay penguins are:

  • In New York City, many zoos including the Central Park Zoo had witnessed same-sex pairs of penguins. Silo and Roy, two male penguins of chinstrap species, formed one of those pairs. They even hatched a female chick when they were given a fertile egg to incubate.
  • The female chick named Tango who was fostered by Roy and Silo mates with another female penguin, Tanuzi, thus forming a lesbian penguin pair.
  • Zoos in Germany and Japan have also reported gay penguins. In Tokyo, Rikkyo University found about 20 same-sex penguin pairs at all the major zoos and aquariums in Japan.
  • Harry and Pepper, two Magellanic gay penguins, were found at the San Francisco Zoo.
  • In Sydney, Sphen, and Magic, other gay male penguins belonging to Gentoo species, were reported to be involved in homosexual behavior at Sea Life Aquarium. In 2018, the pair hatched their first chick.
  • In Spain, two gentoo penguins named Electra and Viola are raising a chick together at L’Oceanogràfic. Another pair of king penguins named Ping and Skipper have been involved in courtship displays and mating.
  • Reggie and Ronnie are gay penguin pairs belonging to the Humboldt species that were found in London.
  • Two male African gay penguins, Buddy and Pedro, were together at the Toronto Zoo. However, later the pair was separated. In Israel, another African penguin pair, Suki and Chupchikoni were females who paired at the Ramat Gan Safari.
  • Hurricane and Jumbo, a gay male Humboldt penguin pair, were bonded and then even hatched an egg at Wingham Wildlife Park. They were the surrogate parents to the chick as the mother left incubation halfway.
  • In New Zealand, at Kelly Tarltons, two female penguins named Thelma and Louise indulged in a homosexual relationship and have been as same-sex pair for more than eight years.

Related Read: Are Penguins Friendly? Why Are Penguins Not Afraid Of Humans?

Does it happen in captivity or in the wild?

Same-sex penguin pairs are found both in captivity and in the wild. However, the maximum number of cases have been reported in captivity.

In the wild, the pairing is likely to happen but it becomes extremely difficult to recognize them.

It’s harder to find gay penguins in the wild because both males and females are identical to each other except for their difference in size.

This makes it extremely difficult to tell the gender of the penguin and thus, even more, difficult to identify homosexual mating pairs.

Related Read: Why do Penguins Waddle Or Wobble? How Do Penguins Walk?

Why are some penguins gay?

Alike numerous animal and bird species, penguins exhibit same-sex behavior. However, the reason behind their behavior is not particular as there are many beliefs that go along with it.

There are many conceptions regarding whether penguins are sexually attracted to the same sex. Some researchers believe that same-sex pairs are formed due to the lack of mating options available to them.

In the reference to the reason, they state the fact that same-sex pairs are more observed in captivity as compared to that in the wild.

People also believe that the identical physique of both male and female penguins makes it difficult for the inexperienced male penguins to identify the female ones for mating. Thus, resulting in the formation of same-sex pairs.

How do gay penguins mate? Do they have usual or any unusual mating behavior?

Both the male and female penguins have a cloaca through which the mating takes place. As there is no penetration required, the mating in gay penguins also occurs by pressing their cloaca together.

No unusual mating behavior has been observed in gay penguins. From courtship displays to mating and even fostering a chick, everything is similar to what happens with heterosexual ones.

Can two male penguins mate and reproduce?

Two male penguins may indulge in sexual acts and courtship displays but they cannot reproduce.

Only female penguins can reproduce by laying eggs. The male penguins can, however, incubate the egg and even can successfully hatch it.

There are many cases observed in captivity in which the gay penguins together incubate the egg, hatch it, and even foster it into a full-fledged young. 

Related Read: Can Penguins Live In Warm Weather? How Do Penguins Survive Warm Weather?

How do gay penguins get eggs? How do they raise their chicks?

Penguins often lay two or more eggs at a time, though not all survive. The gay penguins in captivity adopt any of the extra eggs. Once they get an egg, they start incubating it and further follow all the rituals that other parent penguins do.

Sometimes, the bird becomes so eager that it even steals eggs from the other mothers. The chance of this happening is however more in the wild.

The parent’s responsibilities are the same whether they are same-sex pairs or not. Both the parents have to equally put the effort into raising their chick.

Apart from the fact that the chick cannot be reproduced by them, the gay penguins can be successful parents.

In zoos, the breeding penguins have been observed to inadvertently break their fertilized eggs. Thus, the keepers often rely on foster parent penguins to incubate the egg.

For this purpose, they evaluate the other pairs to know whether they can be good foster parents.

In such evaluation, same-sex pairs also came out to be good foster parents, sometimes better than some of the other heterosexual pairs, The keepers give chances to foster chicks to such gay pairs by swapping their dummy eggs for the real ones.

Related Read: Do Mother Birds Push Babies Out Of Nest? Does It Relate To Human Touch?

Which species of penguins have the most same-sex pairs?

Although all the species of penguins are likely to form same-sex pairs, below are some of the species that are observed to have the most same-sex pairs in penguins.

  • Gentoo penguins
  • Chinstrap penguins
  • King penguins
  • Humboldt penguins
  • African penguins
  • Magellanic penguins

Related Read: Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs Or Baby Birds? Are They Bird Predators?


Penguins are among various other animal species that show homosexual behavior. These birds are not only involved in courtship and mating but also incubate eggs and raise them.

Many examples of gay parent penguins are getting highlighted by zoos around the world.