SAN FRANCISCO – Opponents of gay marriage will say “I told you so,” as will misogynists of any stripe or species, but the facts of this case are black and white.
Linda – a female penguin at the San Francisco Zoo – has come between Harry and Pepper, a pair of male Magellanic penguins who had cohabitated since 2003 and were considered one of the zoo’s most stable avian partnerships.
Last year, Harry and Pepper even incubated and hatched an egg that another penguin had laid, and then raised an exceptional chick, by all accounts.
“Of all of the parents that year, they were the best,” zookeeper Anthony Brown said. “They took very good care of their chick. He ended up being the largest chick on the island.”
That was last year.
Enter Linda, whose partner, Fig, had just passed away. Within weeks, reports the San Francisco Examiner, Harry was seen in Fig’s old burrow spending time with Linda.
One day, Harry and Linda approached Pepper’s pen and confronted him. Harry began attacking Pepper violently and the three ultimately had to be separated, Brown told the paper. Discord had come to penguin island.
Suspicion fell on Linda, not because of her gender but because she had been down this road before. This was not the first time she had ruthlessly broken a penguin’s heart taking care of her own needs.
Years earlier, Brown explained, Linda had left her longtime companion and moved in with the much older Fig just hours after his own partner had passed away. The keepers were gobsmacked.
“That was the fastest we’d ever seen penguins move on,” he said. “To be completely anthropomorphizing, Linda seems conniving. She’s got her plan. I don’t think she was wanting to be a single girl for too long.”
This year, Linda and Harry all but proved that point by successfully nesting. Pepper, who had been sequestered in a bachelor pad at the Avian Conservation Center, was returned to the penguin exhibit, where he has taken up his old residence.
Things have quieted down, but nobody knows how long the domestic truce, such as it is, will last.
“It’s molting season in late July and early August, and around that time we see couples getting shaken up,” Brown said. “It’ll be interesting to see if Harry spends any of that time with Pepper. We’ll have to wait and see.”
No word on talks for the pending reality TV series.
Photo: Harry and Pepper in happier days.