Love birds: Sydney's same-sex penguin couple welcomes baby chick

And baby makes three!

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium's same sex penguin couple are now the proud papa's of a newly hatched penguin chick.

A new pair of happy feet are waddling around a Sydney penguin enclosure, after a beloved same-sex penguin couple welcomed their foster chick into the world at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.

The same-sex Gentoo penguin couple, Sphen and Magic, attracted worldwide fame after they paired up before breeding season, performing the species' tradition of collecting and giving each other special pebbles for their nest.

After being given a "dummy egg" by aquarium staff to test their parenting skills, they were given an egg from another penguin couple at the aquarium who had laid two eggs.

Sydney's beloved same-sex penguin couple has welcomed a fostered chick. 
Sydney's beloved same-sex penguin couple has welcomed a fostered chick.  Photo: Supplied - Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

The foster arrangement was made as it's common for the breed to abandon second chicks due to difficulties in finding enough food for two.

Sphen and Magic's new fluffy chick - officially unnamed but currently referred to using a combination of its two dads' names, "Sphengic" - hatched from its egg last Friday.

While incubating the egg on pebble nesting rings for 36 days, the expectant dads had swapped duties of watching the egg and patrolling the surrounding area to scare off potential pebble thieves and other penguins, Sea Life Sydney said.

One of the proud dads with his new chick on their pebble nest.
One of the proud dads with his new chick on their pebble nest. Photo: Supplied - Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

The shared duties are continuing as the couple watch over the tiny chick, and will continue to feed it up to ten times a day for the next five to six weeks.

“Baby Sphengic has already stolen our hearts! We love watching the proud parents doting and taking turns caring for their baby chick,” Tish Hannan, Sea Life's Penguin Department Supervisor, said.

The chick is also the first sub-Antarctic penguin chick born in the exhibit, since the Gentoo penguins arrived at the Aquarium in 2016.

The baby chick will be fed up to 10 times a day for the next five weeks by its doting parents.
The baby chick will be fed up to 10 times a day for the next five weeks by its doting parents. Photo: Supplied - Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

As it gets older the chick will lose its fluffy coat and begin swimming lessons alongside its parents.

In the wild, sub-Antarctic penguins face various threats from plastic pollution and loss of habitats due to global warming.

An official name for the chick will be decided after its gender becomes apparent in the coming weeks, when Sea Life Sydney Aquarium will ask the public for suggestions for a name.

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