Animal couple

Love conquers all: 'Gay' penguins will reunite in spring

Nov. 14, 2011 at 5:06 PM ET

African penguins Pedro (right) and Buddy interact with each other at the Toronto Zoo. The zoo announced that though the same-sex penguin pair will be ...
Mark Blinch / Reuters
African penguins Pedro (right) and Buddy interact with each other at the Toronto Zoo. The zoo announced that though the same-sex penguin pair will be temporarily separated for the good of their endangered species, they will be reunited by next spring.

Leave the gay penguins alone! That was the overwhelming reaction from TODAY.com readers last week to the news that the Toronto Zoo planned to split up a pair of male African penguins who had bonded closely and even displayed mating behaviors toward each other.

Buddy and Pedro groom each other, make mating calls to each other, and basically hang out together a lot. Zookeepers regarded it as homosexual behavior – something not at all unknown among penguins or many other types of animals (not to mention human beings).

Trouble is, African penguins are endangered, leading zookeepers to the decision that, for the good of their dwindling species, 20-year-old Buddy and 10-year-old Pedro needed to be broken up so they could get busy with female penguins.

Polled as to whether the zoo was doing the right thing, nearly 34,000 TODAY.com readers responded – and an overwhelming majority of 83.4 percent said that the birds of a feather should stay together. “They are happy and healthy, leave them alone,” MemoryintheMachine commented. “They chose, we need to respect that!” jag24659 agreed.

Well, everyone can rest easy: The Toronto Zoo says the penguin pals will be reunited by spring 2012. “There will be a limited time of separation, but it will not be permanent,” Tom Mason, the zoo's curator of invertebrates and birds, told PinkNews.co.uk. “If Pedro and Buddy wish to get back together, they will be welcome to do so.”

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