Two male penguins in Texas adopt egg of a different species, raise chick as their own


SAN ANTONIO (KXAN) — Two flightless birds south of Austin are setting species aside in order to raise an adopted chick.

A Chinstrap penguin egg, under the care of two male Gentoo penguins, hatched on Dec. 30, 2020, at SeaWorld San Antonio, but what led to this remarkable result started with a 2017 observation.

More than three years ago, a team of aviculturists observed the two male Gentoo penguins building a nest together, a SeaWorld San Antonio spokesperson said.

They behaved like a pair and took turns guarding their nest site. Each sat as an expectant parent bird would, SeaWorld San Antonio said. Attune of the penguins’ attentiveness, the aviculturists deemed the unusual pair fit to foster an egg.

So, in 2020, they gave the Gentoos a Chinstrap penguin egg to care for. The pair not only incubated the egg of an entirely different species but took turns to care for and feed the chick after it hatched.

There are cases of penguins adopting and “kidnapping” chicks that are not their own. You can learn more about that on SeaWorld’s main website under its penguin “Hatching & Care of Young” page.

SeaWorld San Antonio offers a penguin observation tour, which is available every day. You can learn more about that on the organization’s website. Jan. 20 is National Penguin Day.

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