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San Francisco Zoo's same-sex penguin couple broken up by female homewrecker

July 13, 2009 |  2:06 pm

Penguins

It seems to be happily ever after for Z and Vielpunkt, two male Humboldt penguins at Germany's Bremerhaven Zoo who are raising their first chick together.  (They're hardly the first penguin couple do do this; other examples of same-sex penguin parenting have been documented in New York's Central Park Zoo and a Chinese zoo, among other places.)

But it looks like it's splitsville for another same-sex penguin couple at the San Francisco Zoo -- thanks, apparently, to the amorous advances of a female penguin named Linda.  The former couple, Harry and Pepper, began nesting together in 2003 and, like Z and Vielpunkt, even incubated an egg together. But, earlier this year, things went south for the pair of Magellanic penguins

According to the San Francisco Examiner, Linda has something of a scarlet reputation at the zoo's Penguin Island exhibit.  She left one longtime male partner to nest with an older penguin named Fig within a few hours of the death of Fig's previous partner.  "That was the fastest we'd ever seen penguins move on. To be completely anthropomorphizing, Linda seems conniving," keeper Anthony Brown told the Examiner.

Fig himself died over the winter; Linda was seen with Harry shortly thereafter.  Reportedly, Pepper didn't take this well, and zoo staff removed him from the penguin colony for a time to prevent further love-triangle infighting.  Pepper has since been reinstated in the colony, and it's unclear what will happen next in this love triangle; keepers say that the molting season, which is coming up, often creates upheaval in penguin relationships.

RELATED:
Gay penguin dads in German zoo hatch their first chick

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Magellanic penguins swim at the San Francisco Zoo's Penguin Island exhibit.  Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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