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Was it homophobic to separate the Toronto zoo's 'gay penguins'?
Officials say the endangered birds must mate with females to pass on their genes. But what about love?
Toronto zoo officials want to break up (apparently gay) lovebirds Buddy and Pedro, saying that the need to perpetuate their endangered species trumps the penguins' feelings for each other.
Toronto zoo officials want to break up (apparently gay) lovebirds Buddy and Pedro, saying that the need to perpetuate their endangered species trumps the penguins' feelings for each other.
REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Z

ookeepers in Toronto have walked unexpectedly into an argument over gay rights, after deciding to separate two apparently gay African penguins named Buddy and Pedro. The two male birds have been courting the way males and females do, grooming each other and swimming together. They show no interest in the lovesick females following them around. Zoo officials, noting that the species is endangered, insist on splitting up the the lovebirds in the hopes they'll take up with lady penguins and pass on their genes. Should the zookeepers let the gay penguins be?

This is unfair and homophobic: These "gay hating zookeepers" are the worst, says Brian Moylan at Gawker. "Buddy and his Latin lover Pedro" came to Toronto from Toledo, Ohio, "and they were already a couple." Let them stay together — "they probably wouldn't have sex with a woman if they were the last penguins on Earth anyway."
"Don't break up the gay penguins!"

C'mon. Buddy and Pedro aren't really gay: The sexuality of these birds "is rather more fluid than those anthropomorphizing them might wish" to believe, says Alex Needham at Britain's Guardian. Remember Roy and Silo? Those once-famous "gay" penguins at a New York zoo inspired a children's book, but then they "split up after Silo took up with a female." The same happened with Harry and Popper at San Francisco's zoo. They're penguins, not people.
"Is it homophobic to split up gay penguins?"

Regardless, saving the species trumps love: Other things being equal, we'd be happy to let Pedro and Buddy "do their thing," Tom Mason, the Toronto zoo's curator of birds and invertebrates, tells Britain's Sun. But the species is endangered. The girl penguins are smitten. "We just have to get the boys interested in looking at them." Once the deed is done, Buddy and Pedro will be "side by side" again, free to continue their bromance.
"'Gay' penguins p-p-p-pucker up"

Buddy and Pedro might not even cooperate: The zookeepers can split them up, says Daniel Villarreal at Queerty, but there's no guarantee "the bonded pair [will] go bi to save their kind." Buddy and Pedro might "take one for the team," or they might reaffirm their love "by refusing to participate in the patriarchal sex-trade industry." After mating season, we'll know how Buddy and Pedro really feel.
"Will Toronto's gay penguins willingly impregnate a female?"

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