Tough Love: Toronto Zoo to Separate ‘Gay’ Penguin Couple

Buddy and Pedro are a pair of wing-crossed penguins. But theirs is a love that just can't last

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It’s a romance suited for the pages of a children’s book. (Oh wait, that sounds familiar.)

Buddy and Pedro are two male African penguins at the Toronto Zoo who seem to have a connection — a very special, loving connection — that has zookeepers wondering if their relationship is more than just a bromance.

(PHOTOS: Same-Sex Overtures Across Species)

According to the Toronto Star, zookeepers have noticed that although Buddy, 20, and Pedro, 10, swim and play with the other penguins in their enclosure by day, they pair off and nest together at night as well as exhibit other telltale mating behaviors, such as touching, making braying sounds and defending their territory.

Does this mean that Buddy and Pedro are gay? Not exactly, as the term doesn’t normally apply to animals. But according to research from the University of California, Berkeley, birds — and other animals, for that matter — are known to form same-sex relationships.

(PHOTOS: The Robo-Penguin)

In fact, this isn’t the first time a same-sex penguin romance has caught the public’s attention. In 2009, two male penguins at New York City’s Central Park Zoo, Roy and Silo, incubated an egg together and ended up raising the chick, Tango. A children’s book — And Tango Makes Three — was written based on the story, and it later became a best seller (it was included on TIME’s list of the top 10 controversial books).

But unlike the Central Park penguins, these Toronto lovers won’t make it past the courting phase. In accordance with the species’ survival plan, the zoo staff will separate Buddy and Pedro so they can fulfill their biological destiny: to create more African penguins.

MORE: Are Penguins Gay? No, They’re Just Lonely