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Same-sex penguin couple promote tourism

May 4, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

New Zealand, where gay couples can marry, has found a same-sex penguin couple raising a surrogate foster chick to promote two tourism messages at once.

The message went out just before Anzac Day – Tuesday, 25 April 2017 – which also happens to be World Penguin Day globally.

While Victoria’s Phillip Island Nature Parks give wonderful penguin-viewing and learning opportunities, nowhere celebrates penguins quite like New Zealand, home to more penguin species than any other country.

Here’s 47-seconds of family penguin viewing, courtesy of Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Tourism New Zealand says the country offers more ways to see these remarkable flightless birds than anywhere else – and two of the birds seem to have become gay icons.

Dubbed Thelma and Louise, the 24-year old mothers share their home with fellow king and Gentoo penguins at Auckland’s SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s. The same-sex pair of king penguins are raising a surrogate foster chick.

“The mothers’ doting love for their joyful bundle testifies to the character of these majestic birds and the strong family bond which is important to penguins,” a media release says.

Thelma and Louise and their foster chick. Photo by Richard Robinson

There are only 18 different penguin species in the world, and seven of those are found in New Zealand – yellow-eyed, Fiordland crested/tawaki, little blue, white-flippered, erect-crested, Snares, and rockhopper.

Three of those rare penguin species breed on the New Zealand mainland, which offers various places and ways to view penguins in their natural habitat.

New Zealand penguin experiences:

  • Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World, Auckland: Meet the southern royals, Antarctica’s king and Gentoo penguins in their icy domain. There’s an exclusive on-the-ice-guided encounter experience where guests go behind the barrier to meet the locals and pose for photos with them.
  • Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony: Watch these little guys make their daily pilgrimage from the water, up over the sand and into their holes for the night. They even have their own underpass to protect them from the road above.
  • Penguin Place in Dunedin: Visitors head through covered trenches and into specially designed viewing hides, allowing close-up access to the breeding grounds of the yellow-eyed penguin.
  • Real Journeys: Fiordland crested penguins can be hard to spot but on a boat tour of Milford or Doubtful Sounds, they can be seen sunning themselves on the rocks.

Edited by Peter Needham

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