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‘Incredibly caring’ gay penguin couple become dads again for chick neglected by its straight parents

Sphen and Magic, the only same-sex couple at the aquarium, first grew close to each other in 2018.

‘Incredibly caring’ gay penguin couple become dads again for chick neglected by its straight parents
Cover Image Source: Facebook/SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 24, 2020. It has since been updated.

The world-famous gay penguin couple Sphen and Magic have become dads for the second time! The pair of male gentoo penguins at the Sea Life Aquarium in Sydney shot to fame in October 2018 when they hatched their first chick from a spare egg given to them by zookeepers who noticed the couple attempting to hatch a rock. While their first chick Lara—nicknamed Sphengic—has now grown up and moved on to starting a family of her own, Sphen and Magic aren't ready to be empty nesters just yet and were more than happy to welcome a second chick to their family.


Speaking to Star Observer, a spokesperson for the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium revealed: "If one of our pairs has too many eggs or are not good at looking after their eggs we will sometimes foster these eggs out to other pairs like Sphen and Magic. We gave Sphen and Magic an egg to incubate as they have proven to be good parents in the past." The power couple's second child joined the pack along with other gentoo penguin babies that privately hatched in the aquarium’s sub-Antarctic Zone over the past month.


"We are beyond excited to welcome the new penguin chicks to our colony. They are doing really well and gaining weight. They started at around 95 grams, now our oldest is almost 2kg and the youngest is sitting at around 399 grams," Kerrie Dixon, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium’s penguin supervisor said in a statement. Sphen and Magic, the only same-sex couple at the aquarium, first grew close to each other in 2018. Their relationship bloomed quickly and by the time the breeding season came around, the two had become inseparable. The aquarium’s staff bore witness to their love story as the two took swims together in the colony.


When breeding season arrived, Sphen and Magic began collecting stones to build their nest like all the other couples at the facility and to no one's surprise, had the best nest of them all. In addition to having more pebbles than other couples in the colony, their nest was also the neatest. The staff initially gave the duo a dummy egg to look after and were soon impressed by Sphen and Magic's commitment to their newfound role. Trusting their parenting skills, the staff then gave the couple the chance to foster an egg from another couple that had two.


Sphen and Magic successfully hatched the egg in October 2018 and welcomed baby Sphengic—later renamed Lara—into their lives. Same-sex pairings are not uncommon among penguins, explained the aquarium spokesperson, adding that Sphen and Magic turned out to be amazing parents to their adoptive child Lara. "Penguins, including Gentoo Penguins, are among the many species in which male-male or female-female pairing occur frequently and we are fortunate to have our own male-male pair – Sphen and Magic – here at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium," she said. "Just like our other Gentoo parents, Sphen and Magic are attentive and incredibly caring and we feel privileged to have such an amazing duo in our colony."


"Lara is now two years old and surprises us every day with how independent she is. Despite still being relatively young, she attempted to take part in this year’s breeding season. She and her partner set up a nest and carefully watched over it but unfortunately weren’t successful in hatching an offspring," the spokeswoman added. "We look forward to seeing how she goes next year and whether she’ll give Sphen and Magic a little grand penguin chick."

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