A same-sex penguin couple, living at the Berlin Zoo, are caring for an abandoned egg.
German media is reporting that King penguins Skipper and Ping have been looking after the egg since July.
According to the staff at the Berlin Zoo, the couple has been desperate to have a chick of their own for a while, and have even tried “to hatch fish and stones” in their bid to become parents.
Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jäger said the couple are “behaving like model parents” and “taking turns to keep the egg warm” by nesting it on their feet under their belly skin.
The pair were given the egg to look after because the female penguin in the group hadn’t shown much interest.
They’ve now been carefully protecting and guarding the egg against any dangers.
However, it’s not known if the egg has been fertilized. If they are lucky then a new chick will join the family after about 55 days.
Skipper and Ping, who are both 10-years-old, moved to Berlin from Hamburg’s Hagenbeck Zoo in April, and have been inseparable ever since.
Many people have welcomed the news like this Twitter user who wished the penguins good luck.
The prospect of two gay penguins adopting an egg and raising a chick has become a feel-good story in Germany in recent days.
On Tuesday, penguin fans, journalists and a television crew from the country’s public international broadcaster gathered to watch Ping sit on the egg.
“They were really the thing that pushed me to come to the zoo because I really do not come to the zoo very often,” said Anna Schmidt, a 33-year-old gender studies researcher from Berlin who described them as “the happy couple.”
Gay penguins of either sex are not unusual and can be found in the wild and in captivity.
“Same sex penguin pairs also exist in natural habitats,” said Jäger.
There may be one catch, though. Anja Seiferth, the penguin keeper at Zoo Berlin, said to the New York Times it was not clear if the egg had been fertilized. That means it might never hatch.
She said there was no way to know for sure until early September when the zoo will either welcome a penguin chick or not. If it does, it will be the zoo’s first penguin chick since 2002.
“I hope Ping and Skip get a little penguin baby and become the best parents you’ve ever seen,” Ms. Seiferth said to the New York Times.
“I hope that is what happens, but so far we do not know if it will.”