Posts Tagged ‘toronto zoo’

Historic Penguin Hatchling Of The North

March 11, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that Toronto Zoo officials are hailing their African penguin-breeding program a success after announcing the birth of the zoo’s first chick. The zoo announced Friday that the chick hatched Jan. 28 and has been raised by the staff after the parents, Gozi and Puff, rejected the egg as it was hatching. Ellie or Eldon — depending on the gender of the chick, which will be determined with a blood test in a few months — can be observed by the public at various times throughout the day, beginning Saturday. The survival of the chick has so far been encouraging for the zoo staff as the first three weeks are most critical for the growth and survival of the chick. “The hatching and survival of the first chick helps to secure a genetically healthy population,” said Tom Mason, curator of birds and invertebrates at the zoo. “African penguins are a high priority species, and these recent additions to our zoo family are a step in the right direction for the species as a whole.” Among the six breeding pairs are Buddy and Pedro — the male penguins whose same-sex bond made them famous in 2011. The pair was separated in November so they could mate with females as part of the breeding program. In early February Buddy and his partner Farai hatched two chicks, but they didn’t survive more than a few days. Pedro and his partner Thandiwe have not yet produced eggs but the zoo said they are engaging in courtship and nesting behavior.  Officials said all six breeding pairs have been successfully nesting for the last few months.

Zoo staff is raising the first chick born in the Toronto Zoo's African penguin breeding program after penguin parents Gozi and Puff rejected the hatchling

Gay Chinese Penguins Adopt

December 9, 2011

First came Roy and Silo and their children’s book,  And Tango Makes Three. Then Buddy and Pedro made headlines as a “gay” penguin couple ( though the term doesn’t normally apply to animals) that was being separated by the Toronto Zoo. Now meet China’s same-sex penguin pair, 0310 and 067 — or as press likes to call them, Adam and Steve.

Adam and Steve have a pretty lush life at Harbin Polar Land in northern China. While zookeepers at the Toronto Zoo were quick to separate Buddy and Pedro for mating purposes, the Penguin Post has learned that keepers at Harbin Polar Land have embraced their eccentric penguins by not only giving them a same-sex wedding ceremony, but also providing them with their very own baby chick to care for. Adam and Steve had a history of stealing eggs from more-traditional couples during hatching season. So when keepers noticed a mother of recently hatched twins struggling with her parenting duties, they decided to give Adam and Steve the baby they were looking for. While it might seem, well, different for a penguin chick to have two male parents, in fact, all penguins are known to have natural instincts for parenting, as males and females equally share in the responsibility to incubate and care for their chicks, before and after they’re born. For this reason, keepers at Harbin Polar Land are confident that Adam and Steve’s chick will grow up to be just like its penguin peers.

The Saga Of The Bromance Penguins

November 13, 2011

The  Penguin Post has learned that recent worldwide outcries against Toronto Zoo’s decision to separate two African penguins, (Buddy and Pedro), have prompted the zoo to agree to put the penguin bromance couple back together after they have mated. Buddy and Pedro formed “a close bond while part of a ‘bachelor flock’ at Pittsburgh’s National Aviary,” and they remained close friends after their transfer to Toronto Zoo. They were dubbed the “gay penguins” because they began to display “courtship and mating behavior towards each other,” though zoo keepers have indicated that their relationship was “not necessarily sexual.” Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto Zoo’s board, indicated that “It’s a complicated issue, but they seem to be in a loving relationship of some sort.” Ya, maybe because they were moved to Toronto and had to stick together? You know…bro’s before-penguin-well you know. The zoo’s decision to separate the penguins is justified as they are trying to ensure the survival of the endangered animal, but still—national outcries against the separation have produced some hilarious commentary. Tom Mason, the curator of invertebrates and birds at Toronto Zoo, defends the decision to separate the pair by saying that the zoo must encourage mating because the African Penguin is on the edge of extinction. According to the Toronto Star although many people are poking fun at the zoo, all humor aside, others are still very critical of the decision. “It has been called unfair and heart-breaking. Others still are accusing the zoo of attempting to force the penguins into the “patriarchal sex-trade industry.” “If [Pedro and Buddy] weren’t genetically important, then we’d let them do their thing,” Mason said. So, as it stands now, they’ll get to do “their thing” and soon as they do that other “thing”.

Buddy and Pedro

“Gay” Penguins Separated

November 8, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that the planned separation of a “gay” penguin couple north of the border at the Toronto Zoo is causing a commotion both among zoologists and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media. As the Toronto Star is reporting, Buddy and Pedro have not only been inseparable, but have also shown signs of traditional mating behaviors. Bred in captivity, 10-year-old Pedro and Buddy, 20, came to Toronto from zoos in the U.S. as part of a popular African penguin exhibit which opened at the zoo in May, and formed a connection as members of a “bachelor flock,” according to the Star. “It’s a complicated issue, but they seem to be in a loving relationship of some sort,” said Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto zoo board. But sadly, even though the pair frequently engage in “courtship and mating behaviors that females and males would do,” according to one keeper, zoo officials say they intend to separate the birds from each other and pair them with females for breeding, as African penguins are an endangered species. Same-sex companionship among penguins is actually quite common. In 2009, Z and Vielpunkt, two male Humboldt penguins at Germany’s Bremerhaven Zoo, became the proud parents of a healthy penguin chick hatched from an egg fertilized by another penguin couple. Another such pair at China’s Polarland Zoo was even given a wedding celebration, as Penguin Post reported last month.

Pedro and Buddy or is it Buddy and Pedro?

 Bill Rapley, executive director for conservation, education and wildlife at the Toronto Zoo, now tells the National Post that Pedro and Buddy’s separation will only last as long as it takes for them to inseminate their respective female partners. Once breeding season is up, Pedro and Buddy will be able to reunite.

Penguin Pals

November 7, 2011

These two male penguins are often seen with each other in the daytime and leave together every night. But the Penguin Post has learned that now the bromance between Buddy and Pedro has got keepers at Toronto Zoo in a flap about whether or not the two African penguins are gay. Keepers have noticed the duo are showing signs of mating behaviour, including braying and defending their territory. But the relationship is not destined to last as the zoo intends to break them up. As African penguins are endangered, the zoo must follow its species survival plan and pair them with females for breeding. Buddy, 20, and Pedro, 10, are part of the African penguin exhibit that opened at the zoo in May. They were bred in captivity in Toledo, Ohio, where they formed a connection as members of a bachelor flock. Their relationship, referred to as ‘pair bonding’ by the zoo, continued after they arrived in Canada. During the day, the zoo’s 12 penguins – six male and six female – swim and play together in their enclosure, which includes a pool with underwater windows for the public to view. But every night Buddy and Pedro pair off together. ‘They do courtship and mating behaviours that females and males would do,’ one keeper told the Toronto Star. As a mating call, the penguins make a braying sound, like a donkey. They defend their territory, preen each other and stand alone together. The keepers, who are aware of the bond, were surprised by the relationship. ‘This is all new for us,’ another keeper told the Star. Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto zoo board, added: ‘It’s a complicated issue, but they seem to be in a loving relationship of some sort.’ Buddy and Pedro are not the first gay penguin couple to grace the world’s zoos. As part of an experiment in 2009, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo, incubated an egg together and raised the chick, named Tango, after she hatched. A children’s book, entitled ‘And Tango Makes Three’, about the chick and her parents, Roy and Silo, became a bestseller. Zoos in Japan, Germany and Sea World Orlando have also noted ‘pair bonding’ among penguins. Buddy and Pedro’s relationship follows research from the University of California, Berkeley in April, which found birds can form gay relationships for life. Scientists found that when raised in same-sex groups, more than half the birds paired up together.  When females were then brought into the male group, five out of eight pairs of males ignored them and stuck with their male partner. Lead author Dr Julie Elie said: ‘Relationships in animals can be more complicated than just a male and a female who meet and reproduce. ‘My observations led me to this surprising result: same-sex individuals would also interact like male-female pairs.’

Penguin Pals Buddy and Pedro


Penguins Knock Off Elephants In Toronto

May 22, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that the Toronto Zoo decided last week to send its popular elephants packing, but it is about to unleash a new draw for visitors. Penguin pizzazz. African penguins, not seen at the zoo since 1993, are back in an exhibit opening this Saturday, May 21, at the entrance to the African Savannah. The flightless birds, described by the zoo as black and white but “always up for full-color fun” are endangered in the wild, their breeding grounds in South Africa and Namibia declining under oil spills and other human encroachment. But the first 12 penguins at the zoo, ranging from four to 20 years old, have come from zoos in the United States. More will be coming soon, but not from the wild, Tom Mason, curator of birds and invertebrates said in a statement this week. The penguins will share the exhibit, big enough for 50 birds, with other waterfowl, including Cape shelducks and pink-backed and great white pelicans. The zoo plans to add the other species gradually, so the birds can get used to each other, Mason said. The new, 6,000-square-foot penguin habitat was fashioned from the old African fur seal pool and building – the zoo’s last fur seal has gone – but with a state-of-the-art underwater viewing area, a large window for watching penguins as they shelter from the cold, and video monitors where visitors can see wild African penguins. As part of a Special Survival Plan, the zoo contributes to sea bird rehabilitation centers in South Africa and believes knowledge gained on their nutritional needs and how to prevent diseases in the penguins will help the species survive. The captive population “can and do play an important role,” said Mason. Penguins from the exhibit that closed in 1993 were shipped to other zoos – the last penguins were sent away in 1995 – because the air flow in the African pavilion had changed in a way “which appeared to be detrimental to the birds,” Mason said. Of interest, considering their expected life span is 10 to 12 years, a pair of former Toronto Zoo penguins, both 30, now live at the West Edmonton Mall.

Some Canadian Penguins that don't play hockey