Gay penguins help local zoo celebrate Pride month

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Frankie and Vinnie- Folly Farm's gay penguins. Picture: Joann Randles
Frankie and Vinnie- Folly Farm's gay penguins. Picture: Joann Randles

Wales’ only known gay penguins have come out, as a Pembrokeshire Zoo celebrates Pride month.

A pair of Folly Farm’s macaroni penguins seem to have paired up for life, demonstrating behaviour exclusive to penguin couples and taking walks along the beach together.

Western Telegraph: The pair are an amazing couple according to keeper Caz. Picture: Joann Randles
Western Telegraph: The pair are an amazing couple according to keeper Caz. Picture: Joann Randles

The pair are an amazing couple according to keeper Caz. Picture: Joann Randles

Frankie and Vinnie are among Folly Farm’s 16 macaroni penguins, having arrived at the zoo together in 2018 along with two other macaronis. They were followed by 12 more who arrived in the middle of lockdown.

The pair started off as friends before, according to keeper Caz, becoming closer and closer and eventually exhibiting a behaviour called allopreening which is exclusive to penguin couples.

“One of the reasons we knew that they were a proper couple is because they were allopreening,” said keeper Caz in an interview with the Independent.

Western Telegraph: Frankie and Vinnie exhibit penguin couple behaviour such as allopreening. Picture: Joann Randles
Western Telegraph: Frankie and Vinnie exhibit penguin couple behaviour such as allopreening. Picture: Joann Randles

Frankie and Vinnie exhibit penguin couple behaviour such as allopreening. Picture: Joann Randles

“That basically is penguin kissing. You only allopreen a penguin if they are your penguin. The day we saw Frankie and Vinnie allopreen that’s when we knew they were no longer just friends.”

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Caz joked the pair also enjoy beach walks together. While the rest of the macaroni penguins hang out at a particular part of the enclosure, Frankie and Vinnie like to take a stroll down to the humbolt penguin part of the beach.

Western Telegraph: Frankie and Vinnie will most probably remain together for life. Picture: Joann Randles
Western Telegraph: Frankie and Vinnie will most probably remain together for life. Picture: Joann Randles

Frankie and Vinnie will most probably remain together for life. Picture: Joann Randles

She added that it is very common to have same sex pairings within different species of penguins. It is perhaps more obvious in a zoo setting as the pairs can be observed at closer quarters than in a huge colony in the wild.

It seems that because of their ages, Vinnie is six and Frankie 12years old, the pair will be together for life.

“Seeing their ages, I think this is definitely the real deal for them,” said Caz. “They are going to be lovers for life.”

Western Telegraph: Frankie and Vinnie's partnership has been celebrated as part of Pride month. Picture: Joann Randles
Western Telegraph: Frankie and Vinnie's partnership has been celebrated as part of Pride month. Picture: Joann Randles

Frankie and Vinnie's partnership has been celebrated as part of Pride month. Picture: Joann Randles

She said that fatherhood was also not out of the question for the pair, as macaroni penguin couples took an even share of raising a chick.

“We could easily give them an egg and they could rear that between them,” she said. “It’s absolutely something we would consider in the future.”

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