16 February 2005

birds of a feather

Females flown in to p-p-p-pick up 'gay' penguins
They are called Charley, Left-Arrow, Diagonal-Line and Six-Point. The four female penguins at Bremerhaven Zoo in Germany are at the centre of debate after being brought in to tempt 'gay' male penguins.

The zoo imported the penguins from Sweden last month after finding through DNA tests that three of their five existing pairs were all male.

The zoo had been mystified why its endangered Humboldt penguins had failed to breed, until they realised the males had paired off, the zoo's director Heike Kück said.

Last year, two of the male pairs spent months sitting on a stone instead of an egg.

But the zoo's decision to introduce females has sparked a furious response from gay and lesbian groups in Germany.

'All sorts of gay and lesbian associations have been emailing and calling in to protest,' a spokesman for Bremerhaven's Zoo on the Sea in north-western Germany said.

Ms Kück defended her decision to bring in the females, which, she said, had had little success in 'turning' the males.

'The central question is, are our penguins really gay or is it simply a lack of opportunity?' she told Der Spiegel. 'So far the males have scarcely thrown the females a single glance. The men have had the opportunity but haven't done it.

'If the penguins really are gay then obviously they can stay gay.'

A relieved world sighs with relief to learn that no member of the House of Windsor is involved in this unsuccessful arranged marriage.

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