A LESBIAN penguin couple have invited a widowed penguin into their relationship to form a ‘thruple’ and the happy trio are now expecting babies.
Karl Ruprecht, an African penguin, who was recently widowed in Magdeburg Zoo in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, has been let into the relationship of female penguin couple Sarafina and Jose.
Sarafina and Jose, have been a couple since 2016 and are inseparable according to zoo workers and have now accepted Karl into their partnership.
The female pair have often been seen incubating their eggs, but without a man in the relationship the eggs will not be fertilised.
The penguins have shown signs of desperation looking after their eggs.
But now it seems their dream of motherhood could become a reality.
Karl Ruprecht, a male penguin in the enclosure, is now single after the death of his partner Agatha in 2018 and since then he has become close with the two female penguins.
Same-sex activity in the animal world is widespread.
Studies have indicated that around 1,500 animal species practice same-sex coupling which extends from insects and fish to birds and mammals.
Jasper Buikz, a biologist at Amsterdam’s ARTIS zoo, told DW: “Being homosexual is very common and no problem in the natural world at all. In fact, we see more heterophobia than homophobia in the animal kingdom.”
In fact, gay sex accounts for more than 90 per cent of all observed sexual activity in giraffes.
Most of the animals aren’t purely homosexual and will also mate with the opposite gender and the reasons why animals engage in homosexual activity can be complex – elements include a lack of heterosexual partners, as a way of forming social bonds or even as a way of setting a fight.
Although research indicates they also indulge simply for pleasure.
Bonobo apes are thought to be almost entirely bisexual and like humans they have sex for pleasure rather than just reproduction and the apes like to do it with both sexes.
Now zoo workers have seen Karl Ruprechst disappear into the nest of Jose and also Sarafina and both of the penguins have now laid eggs.
In May 2018, chicks had been born from the trio, but they did not survive.
However, the three penguins are now sitting on new eggs and there are hopes these will bring the much longed for chicks to the two mothers and the happy father.
The eggs are expected to hatch in late November.
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DNA tests would be needed to establish which chicks belong to each mother.
Susann Paelecke from Magdeburg zoo said: “We have had homosexual penguin couples before.
“They were separated at the time, but we did not want to do this with the two females.”