What can Penguins Teach Us about Tolerance? | By Sydney Rudko

Love is universal. Whether it be between a man and a woman, a man and a man, a woman and a woman, or me and my cat, I’m incredibly proud to live in a country that encourages and protects the rights of everyone to love whomever they choose. It upsets me to think that in some parts of the world this isn’t the case. Love existed before modern religion and before modern politics, and should be celebrated in any form, but it’s easy to lose sight of that. How we treat penguins who are different is what defines us as a society. All penguins should be allowed to love freely and to steal/adopt young penguins as easily as heterosexual ones!

King penguins, similar to humans, form pair bonds. Two male penguins at the Odense Zoo in Denmark pair bonded about a year ago and have been trying to adopt ever since. After a female penguin who also resides at the zoo gave up an egg she laid, zoo keepers gave the egg to the gay couple to hatch and raise. Zoo officials say the newborn penguin is doing extremely well under the care and attention of its loving Dads. Homosexual penguin couples in New York, Germany and San Francisco have all also successfully reared adopted young. None of these penguins were forced to adopt the lifestyles of their parents, they didn’t do any worse in penguin primary schools, and they didn’t offend anyone’s religion. By all accounts these partnerships produced perfectly normal penguins.

King penguins share care-taking of the young between the two partners. When the egg has hatched, both penguin parents ensure it grows up to be an upstanding member of penguin society. It is almost like it doesn’t matter which sex raises the penguin, so long as it is cared for by two loving parents, but then again, that would be absurd.

A study conducted in 2010 looked at homosexuality in penguins in depth and had some very interesting findings. Their data demonstrates that around 30% of penguins engaged in a same-sex partnership. That’s a fair number of penguins! The data also shows that penguins who engaged in these pairings were from all age groups. They were not only the young penguins, or ones inexperienced in breeding who may simply be confused about how proper mating is supposed to work.

Thankfully it’s almost impossible to compare humans to penguins. After all, they have a complex social structure that enables them to cooperative and survive in arguably one of the harshest environments on earth, and have only been around for 67 mya. In comparison, we communicate so poorly we often make our environment more difficult for ourselves, and have only been on the block for 15mya, so clearly it’s not like penguin behavior might reflect some perfectly normal phenomenon in nature, and penguins certainly aren’t better off for accepting it as such.

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