Ireland's first gay penguins make perfect match

Penelope and Missy in their polar ice home in Dingle Oceanworld.

Ireland’s first gay penguin couple have set up a nest together in the country’s only gentoo penguin colony.

The same-sex pair, Penelope and Missy, are exhibiting all the signs of a courting couple in their €1m polar ice home in Dingle Oceanworld.

They are following in the footsteps of a number of famous same-sex penguin couples including long-time pair, Roy and Silo, from the Central Park Zoo in New York City, along with a King penguin couple in a Danish zoo which became adoptive fathers to a chick from an abandoned egg.

The Irish duo are one of five couples which have paired off for the breeding season at the polar exhibition which mimics the icy conditions at the South Pole in the Kerry Aquarium.

The head penguin keeper, Kate Hall, said same-sex couples are not unheard of in the penguin world, although it is usually two males who pair off.

"The ones in Central Park are icons for the gay community over there," said Ms Hall. "They have a lot of fondness and affection for them.

"It’s definitely not an unusual occurrence although this time it’s two females."

She said Missy and Penelope have been displaying all the signs of a courting couple in their enclosure, which is home to a dozen of the black and white creatures.

"The thing penguins do to show they like each other is they bow to each other and they are doing that.

"When they come into breeding season, they do it to the penguin of their choice and it reinforces the bond between them.

"It is very sweet to watch."