If you needed a reminder that love is alive and penguins are incredible, Sphen and Magic, a pair of male gentoo penguins at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium in Australia, are now the proud fathers of a three-ounce chick.
“Baby Sphengic has already stolen our hearts! We love watching the proud parents doting and taking turns caring for their baby chick,” Tish Hannan, Penguin Department Supervisor at the aquarium, said in a statement on Friday.
Aquarium workers were moved to find the couple — nicknamed, like all power couples eventually are, Sphengic — “constantly waddling around and going for swims together” before breeding season. Sphen and Magic then confirmed the dating rumors with the most romantic of gestures: sharing pebbles. Like chocolates or flowers for humans, pebbles are shared among gentoo penguins to show their interest in becoming a pair.
“A pebble to them is equivalent to a diamond,” according to an article from the National University of Singapore.
Sphengic gathered more pebbles than any other pair at the whole aquarium. They then built a nest of pebbles, which penguins generally do to keep eggs warm. Unlike many species, gentoo penguins share the responsibility of rearing the egg equally, with both partners alternating staying inside the nest to incubate and patrolling outside it for protection. ‘There is no real difference when it comes to breeding behaviors between males and females,” Hannan said.
The aquarium decided to give the couple a dummy egg to practice incubating, but soon it become clear they were “absolute naturals,” according to the aquarium’s statement — and they adopted a real egg, from another couple who had hatched two.
“Fostering the biological couple’s egg to Sphen and Magic was the best outcome for all penguin couples and the future of their eggs,” the aquarium said. The newborn chick, whose sex has yet to be identified and who is still unnamed, will serve as “an ambassador for its generation,” aquarium officials said, an opportunity for the public to learn about the plight of the gentoo penguin species. Climate change and plastic pollution have threatened the natural habitat of the gentoo, along with other sub-Antarctic penguins.
We send our deepest blessings — and all the pebbles — to the happy family.