A penguin at a South Bank aquarium being raised by same-sex parents will be its first to be genderless.
The adopted Gentoo chick will reportedly become the world’s first not to have its gender assigned by staff at the aquarium – meaning it won’t be characterised as male or female.
Staff at the South Bank tourist attraction said it was ‘more natural’ for the chick to mature into an adult without a gender, saying it was more normal in the wild.
“While the decision may ruffle a few feathers, gender neutrality in humans has only recently become a widespread topic of conversation, however, it is completely natural for penguins to develop genderless identities as they grow into mature adults,” said Graham McGrath, General Manager at the aquarium.
The baby penguin is being raised by same-sex penguin couple, Rocky and Marama, who took the little creature under their wing after its egg was moved from its stressed birth mother.
It has since fledged its nest and moulted its feathers to become another penguin in the colony.
“What makes us really proud at the aquarium is the success of SEA LIFE London’s Gentoo breeding programme and the amazing job of same sex penguins Rocky and Marama who took the chick under their wing and raised it as their own,” added Mr McGrath.
The species have ‘near-threatened’ status in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species meaning the birds at SEA LIFE London play a critical marine conservation role.
As the adopted chick matures it may become part of the conservation breeding program, depending on the gender its biology determines, said the aquarium.