Sphen, Magic and Baby Sphengic, courtesy of Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium has announced the sex of baby Sphengic, the gentoo penguin chick born to same-sex couple Sphen and Magic on October 19.
So drumroll… Baby Sphengic is a girl!
“After months of waiting— and regular questioning from the public—we’re so excited to finally have a confirmation that Baby Sphengic is a little girl!” said Sea Life Sydney Aquarium Penguin Department Supervisor Tish Hannan.
“We’ve started to see her personality shine in the last few weeks, and can confirm she is every bit the diva—or QWEEN—we would only expect her to be.”
Baby Sphegic’s gender needed to be confirmed by a blood test once she reached maturity, due to penguins having internal reproductive organs. Whilst her sex is important to know for population management, penguin gender roles are very fluid.
“As penguin parents share equal responsibility of raising young, building and maintaining the nest, gender roles aren’t defined in penguins,” explained Hannan.
“So whilst Baby Sphengic is a female on paper, that’s where the role ends. She’ll grow up to play both mummy and daddy one day - just like Sphen and Magic.”
Sphen, Magic and Baby Sphengic when she was younger, courtesy of Sea Life Sydney Aquarium Facebook
Sphen and Magic became inseparable before breeding season last year, waddling around together and going for swims, and then Sphen presented Magic with a special stone, which is “the equivalent of proposing in the love language of penguins.” The couple were keen to start a family and as breeding season approached they began collecting pebbles to create a nest.
Keepers gave the couple a dummy egg to practise with and Sphen and Magic diligently worked as a team to keep the egg incubated and the nest safe. The SeaLife team then gave them a real egg, which was taken from a couple who found two eggs too much to handle.
Now that Baby Sphengic is 3 months old, she is “ready to go out in the world,” having moulted her juvenile feathers and replaced them with waterproof plumage. After successfully learning to dive and swim, she is moving on to learning to feed under water. The chick will play an important role as an ambassador for her species, educating the public on the plight sub-Antarctic penguins face in the wild.
And she finally gets a name...as soon as the team at the aquarium come up with one they deem appropriate.
You can visit Sphen, Magic and Baby Sphengic at the Penguin Expedition Exhibit at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.