Zoo ditches gay penguin plan
By Allan Hall
February 17, 2005
A German zoo has abandoned a plan to break up homosexual penguin couples after protests from gay rights groups.
The Bremerhaven Zoo in northern Germany had earlier flown in four female Humboldt penguins in an attempt to encourage three all-male couples to reproduce.
The zoo originally defended the experiment on the grounds that the birds were an endangered species. But after protests from gay rights groups, director Heike Kueck said the zoo was abandoning the plan.
"Everyone can live here as they please," Ms Kueck said.
She said it was not her intention, nor was it possible, to separate the gay couples by force and interest them in their new female companions.
She added that the gay penguins had shown little interest in the females, but this could have been because the program was started too late in the year.
Gay groups had protested against "the organised and forced harassment through female seductresses" in an open letter to Bremerhaven Mayor Joerg Schulz and called on him to stop the program.
Zoo keepers discovered that the homosexual couples had gathered rocks that they coveted like eggs and fooled their keepers for years into thinking they were boy-and-girl duos.
The zoo came up with the ingenious idea of trying to convert the males by flying in some exotic birds from Scandinavia. But the boys haven't exactly been fighting for a slice of the female action. On the contrary, they have shown their suitors the cold shoulder.
"The relationships were obviously too serious," Ms Kueck said of the same-sex penguin couples. Instead of flirting with the opposite sex, they seemed to prefer sitting on the stones, which substitute for the eggs they will never be able to lay.
The zoo, which promotes itself with the slogan "encounters of a special kind", initially wanted to wait until spring 2006 to see if their international matchmaking efforts spawned results.
Now the gay penguins are being allowed to live the way they want.
As for the Swedish females - new male penguins have been drafted in to attend to their heterosexual needs.