Penguins: Same-sex couples formed at London aquarium

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Media caption,

Meet Marmalade and Chickpea, and Marama and Rocky

Two same-sex penguin couples have formed at a London aquarium as they go through their annual mating season.

From Monday, guests visiting Sea Life will be able to witness two all-female pairs - Marmalade and Chickpea, and Marama and Rocky.

Mating rituals among penguins involve gifting a pebble to a potential mate, which is then used to build a nest for any eggs that are laid.

Same-sex penguin couples are relatively common, the aquarium said.

Sometimes they will adopt eggs that are abandoned by other pairs.

Image source, Sea Life London
Image caption,
Visitors will be able to view the penguins from Monday

Sea Life manager Catherine Pritchard said: "Without a doubt, our Gentoo penguins are one of our most loved creatures and we're so pleased that we're able to reopen our doors in time for guests to be able to witness their amazing courtship rituals.

"Gentoo penguins are the ultimate romantics, and their dating techniques are truly unique - so much so that as humans, we could certainly learn a thing or two from their passion and commitment to finding a mate.

"As well as our male-female penguin couples, this breeding season we also have two female same-sex couples who are also going through their nesting rituals."

Image source, Sea Life London
Image caption,
Sometimes a same-sex couples will adopt eggs that are abandoned by other pairs

The birds at the aquarium are closely monitored during mating season, with staff keeping an eye on their nesting progress and regularly weighing them.

Ms Pritchard said: "Our expert care team are monitoring the penguins' progress and we're hoping that we're lucky enough to add a new chick to the colony when we welcome guests back."

The aquarium will reopen on Monday following the latest easing of lockdown restrictions.

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