Gay lobby defends homosexual penguins
By Kate Connolly
February 15, 2005
The director of a German zoo has defended her campaign to mate a group of homosexual male penguins with females, arguing that it is the only way to preserve a dying breed from extinction.
Heike Kuuck said that she had been inundated with criticism from the gay lobby after making public her plan.
"We're simply trying to help save a threatened species," she said of the Humboldt penguin, a bird whose homosexual tendencies are well known to zoologists.
Six penguins at Bremerhaven Zoo in north-west Germany provoked world excitement when, in the absence of any females, they were seen wandering around in pairs, trying to mate with each other and sitting on stones as if they were eggs.
Gay groups reacted with outrage when four female penguins were flown in from Sweden to allow keepers to see if they had any influence on the homosexual pairings.
Since then gay activists from as far afield as Australia have been protesting at the zoo's attempts to "cure" the penguins of their homosexuality. The zoo has been bombarded with threatening letters and phone calls saying that gay penguins have a "right to a free choice of partner". But the zoo denies it is trying to influence the penguins' sexual orientation.
"What we don't know is whether our three male couples are, in fact, homosexual or whether they've only got together because of a dearth of females," Mrs Kuuck said.
"We have no intention of separating same-sex couples by force," she added.
"In any case, I would not know how that could work."
The newcomers and their possible male mates will be placed in the same compound.
"We will see what arrangements naturally occur as a result," Mrs Kuuck said.
"If we get the same couple formations as before, that's bad luck for us."
Humboldt penguins, indigenous to the coasts of Peru and Chile, are close to extinction.