Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Femme fatale ends penguin bromance

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TORONTO -- Buddy and Pedro, once one of Toronto's hottest "It" couples, have broken up amid pregnancy rumours and a budding relationship with what those on Team Pedro will undoubtedly call a femme fatale.

It only took Buddy 72 hours to bond with Farai, a female penguin he was matched with on Nov. 19, after being separated from Pedro. Handlers at the Toronto Zoo split up the same-sex pair out of concern their bond would hamper breeding efforts.

Pedro has yet to get lucky, but zoo officials say it's not for a lack of trying.

"Pedro is very ready to go, per se, but his prospective mate Thandiwey is a little shy," Tom Mason, the zoo's curator of birds and invertebrates, said Monday.

The story of the star-crossed birds took on a life of its own when the two African penguins, dubbed Toronto's "gay penguins," became an Internet sensation last month amid outrage over their pending separation.

Some cheeky headlines dubbed theirs "the love that dare squawk its name," while late-night TV comic Jimmy Kimmel took on the story during a monologue, calling it "Brokeback Iceberg."

But Mason emphasized their bond was social, not sexual -- and not at all uncommon.

The two simply had each other's backs, he said, and preferred each other's company to that of other penguins.

The bromance was doomed from the start, Mason said. The zoo simply had to intervene to ensure the bachelor penguins chose wisely and made the right genetic match, he explained.

Zoo officials are hoping the first babies will come by April, and "given the amount of breeding activity," it could happen as early as January if an egg is laid soon.

Buddy, who is 21, had a female mate for 10 years and produced some offspring before his partner died.

Pedro, 10, has yet to produce any offspring.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 13, 2011 A10

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