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The Penguin Pickle

The Penguin Pickle

The GTA—and the rest of Canada—has been in a flap about a couple of funny little Toronto Zoo residents, Pedro and Buddy. Turns out Pedro and Buddy are gay. Now, gay in penguin terms may be much more subjective than in, say, human or simian terms, but you get the picture.

Two male penguins decided to ditch the ladies and take up residence together, like Toronto’s very own Penguin Odd Couple (which is Felix and which is Oscar no one has said). Of course, Pedro and Buddy certainly are not the first M4M penguin pairing and they are not likely to be the last. There have been several rebel penguins who have shacked up together causing great concern, amusement and consternation among the human masses.

Roy and Silo became the target of gay rights activists, religious zealots, comedians and the scientific community all scrambled to justify their love

You may recall a few years ago the hoots and yowls about New York Central Park Zoo denizens, Roy and Silo. These two little lovebirds caused a great fracas when it was learned they, too, were living in sin. News media, scientists, biologists and anyone with two fingers and a keypad weighed in on the nature (or nurture) of this love that dare not squawk its name. Roy and Silo became the target of gay rights activists, religious zealots, comedians and the scientific community all scrambled to justify their love. Roy and Silo kept tight beaks through the whole imbroglio.

Who can forget the groundswell caused by the penguin perturbed and passionate when it came to Harry and Pepper, two young lovers living in the San Francisco Zoo? They were under the microscope, hailed and maligned for their ungodly union. Yet, through it all, they kept their starch-collared dignity and went about their business until zoo officials split them up.

What’s very interesting in all of these cases is not so much the idea that they are ‘gay’ penguins, but rather the reaction from people to that idea

Each zoo has created a controversy by splitting up the adorable couples for mating purposes. This has been met with mixed reaction from the human species quite concerned with the domestic goings on of penguins (like there isn’t enough in human relationships to meddle with). The idea is that these little critters must either be left to be who they are meant to be or fixed to join the normative sexuality of the general penguin population.

What’s very interesting in all of these cases is not so much the idea that they are ‘gay’ penguins, but rather the reaction from people to that idea. Just look at some of the comments left on different news sites. Pearls of wisdom like these would send anyone to a frigid ice flow for a little peace and quiet. To wit:

Comments from National Post readers:

“Nature’s way of teaching mankind what we should do.  If you can’t reproduce, you will go extinct.  Simple.”

“And they loony-left will fight this at a HRC on behalf of all gay animals.”

“Unless these penguins are magic, they are not going to get female penguins knocked up if they are spending all their time having gay penguin sex. So how about we lay off the eco activism and stop looking for some way to link every extinction event to climate.”

Comments from CBC readers:

“’Homosexuality in humans appears to have a genetic component.’ Once again the tired line parroted with no scientific basis to back it up. The only reason they stay gay in human terms because it’s a choice. Always has been always will be. There is no gay gene, but there is lots of evidence that shows it to be psychological.”

“Too bad some people need penguins to realize there is only one way to sex and life! I hope that ignorance will not dictate how people ought to interact with one another!” 

“So does that mean the feeling is a CHOOSEN one and not “i was born this way”

Comments from CNN readers:

“I blame all of the political dikes.”

“Gay penguins…what’s next a lesbian seals?”

What is amazing is the amount of projection on these penguins from people who just can’t leave the ‘gay’ thing alone. There seems to be some sort of desperate search for some biological Rosetta Stone to get the final answer on whether homosexuality is learned or can be cured.

What’s even more disturbing is the fact that many readers and those who comment are far less concerned with the global population of the African penguin and more concerned about their own feelings toward homosexuality. However, they may not have to worry about perverse penguin predilections much longer.

Today, there are approximately 60,000 African penguins living in the wild, down from 225,000 in the 1990s, and their population is dropping fast. Biologists suspect changing ocean currents are driving the penguins food sources away form their habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has estimated that at this rate of population decline in the wild, African penguins could be extinct by the end of the century. I think that’s a much bigger issue than a couple of gay penguins.

photo credit: Jeremy Kunz


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