Toronto Zoo’s ‘Gay’ Penguins Attracted to New Female Partners

Christina Ng
Toronto Zoo’s ‘Gay’ Penguins Attracted to New Female Partners (ABC News)

Male African penguin companions at the Toronto Zoo, Buddy, left, and Pedro, were separated for mating and appear to have moved on with new female partners. (Photo credit: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star)

It looks like Buddy and Pedro, the Toronto Zoo's "gay" penguins that captured hearts all over the world, may have moved on to new female mates.

The formerly inseparable pair are apparently warming up to their new female partners, the zoo said in a statement today, according to the Toronto Star.

Buddy was paired with a female penguin named Farai on Nov. 19 and exhibited typical breeding behavior. Pedro was set up with female penguins on Dec. 1 and has been interacting with them, but has not yet formed a solid bond, according to the Star.

The zoo drew public outcry in November when they announced that the male penguins would be separated and paired with female penguins for mating.

Buddy, 21, and Pedro, 10, lived in a zoo in Toledo, Ohio, before traveling to Canada to become part of the Toronto Zoo's first African penguin exhibit in 18 years.

Zookeepers quickly observed courtship and mating behaviors that are typically exhibited only between males and females.

"When you put things in captivity, odd things happen," Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y., told "The way penguins work is they do get paired for a long time. Basically, the only other penguin they care about is their mate, so it's important for them to find somebody who's compatible, and if you don't have a normal upbringing then it's difficult to say how 'normal' they can be."

Buddy and Pedro, who were both raised in captivity, pair together used to "bray" at one another, groom each other, and constantly stand alongside each other, the Toronto Star reported.

The zoo had planned to reunite Buddy and Pedro after breeding season, but no word yet on whether this flame will be rekindled or have an icy ending.