During their annual mating season, two same-sex penguin couples have established in a London aquarium.
Visitors at Sea Life will be able to see two all-female pairs, Marmalade and Chickpea, and Marama and Rocky, starting on Monday.
The presenting of a pebble to a possible mate is part of penguin mating rituals, and the pebble is subsequently used to create a nest for any eggs deposited.
According to the aquarium, same-sex penguin pairings are very frequent.
They will occasionally accept eggs that have been abandoned by other pairs.
“Without a question, our Gentoo penguins are one of our most adored species, and we’re so delighted that we’re able to reopen our doors in time for tourists to experience their spectacular courting rituals,” said Sea Life manager Catherine Pritchard.
“Gentoo penguins are the ideal romantics, and their courting tactics are genuinely unique – to the point where we, as humans, might learn a thing or two from their dedication and enthusiasm for finding a spouse.”
“This breeding season, in addition to our male-female penguin couples, we have two female same-sex couples that are also going through their nesting rituals.”
During mating season, the birds at the aquarium are constantly observed, with personnel keeping track of their nesting progress and weighing them on a regular basis.
“Our experienced care staff is watching the penguins’ growth,” Ms Pritchard explained, “and we’re hope to be lucky enough to add a new baby to the colony when we welcome tourists back.”
Following the latest relaxation of lockdown restrictions, the aquarium will reopen on Monday.