Toronto’s gay penguins deserve to be happy

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Today, in a sincere journalistic effort to generate Internet hits from uninformed people with nothing better to do, I have decided to wade into yet another swirling controversy I know almost nothing about.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/11/2011 (4099 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Today, in a sincere journalistic effort to generate Internet hits from uninformed people with nothing better to do, I have decided to wade into yet another swirling controversy I know almost nothing about.

I am referring to the huge worldwide flap that has erupted over the Toronto Zoo’s recent decision to separate Buddy and Pedro, a pair of African penguins who may or may not be gay.

This is one of those sensitive issues wherein there’s a good chance that, no matter what I say, I will deeply offend someone, meaning it’s exactly like having Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner with my relatives, most of whom are a little to the right of Attila the Hun and will not hesitate to wallop you over the head with a plate of yams to emphasize how much they disagree.

Chris Young / The Canadian Press African Penguins Pedro (left) and Buddy in their enclosure at the Toronto Zoo.

But I’m pretty sure even my relatives would feel a few pangs of sympathy for the penguin plight of Buddy and Pedro, two star-crossed lovers who are being ripped apart by keepers at the Toronto Zoo.

According to news reports I have read and partially understood, the two male penguins were brought to Toronto this year from Pittsburgh’s National Aviary to bond with a pair of eligible female penguins, but, as is often the case in love stories like this, it didn’t quite work out that way.

What happened instead is Buddy and Pedro, who had become close while part of a “bachelor flock” at their old zoo, bonded with each other and spent most of their time snuggling and displaying classic courtship behaviour, such as arguing over who would hang up the phone first.

OK, I’m kidding about that last bit, but I am not kidding about the fact the penguin pair were inseparable, so the zoo decided to break up their relationship — not because the penguins may or may not be gay, but because they have good genes and need to breed to preserve the species.

Is it just me, or did everyone miss the memo about the worldwide penguin shortage? Seriously? I mean, regardless of where you look — movies, TV shows, documentaries, newspapers, magazines, the Internet — you are going to find (bad word) penguins.

So I’m pretty sure the world is knee-deep in penguins. For example, if you read the news stories about Buddy and Pedro, you’ll discover that…

OK, hold on, apparently the global population of African penguins is falling faster than Lindsay Lohan’s career, so there’s that to consider.

But is that reason enough to separate two best friends? Imagine how you’d feel if you were hanging out with your BFF, watching football, belching the alphabet, scratching your personal region and eating onion dip directly from the container when — OMG! — all-seeing overlords tear you apart and force you to mate with attractive eligible persons of the opposite sex.

You’d probably feel pretty great, but that’s not the point. The point is even the U.S. military had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — although I am not sure whether they had combat penguins — so can we expect anything less from the Toronto Zoo? I mean, we can’t blame penguins for getting a little confused from time to time, what with the fact that, regardless of the occasion, they all wear identical tuxedos. Hey, whatever floats your iceberg is just fine with me.

 So I say, no matter what their orientation, we should leave the little guys alone. We don’t have a clue whether Buddy and Pedro are gay, but I’ll bet you a bucket of mackerel that right about now they aren’t very happy.

 doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

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