Two male penguins at a German zoo in Bremerhaven have hatched a rejected egg and are now caring for it just like their heterosexual counterparts. Z and Vielpunkt have nurtured and protected the chick, which is now four weeks old.

“Z and Vielpunkt, both males, gladly accepted their ‘Easter gift’ and got straight down to raising it,” said a statement from the zoo.

“Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual couple to do. The two happy fathers spend their days attentively protecting, caring for and feeding their adopted offspring.”

The zoo has three other pairs of male penguins, and made headlines in 2006 when they attempted to fly in four females in order to “seduce” the endangered Humboldt penguins to reproduce.

The zoo quickly abandoned the scheme after causing outrage among gay rights activists, who accused it of interfering in the animals’ behaviour.

A similar incident occurred at a zoo in China, where a gay penguin couple attempted to steal an egg from a straight couple by placing pebbles at their feet before waddling away with the egg. However the deception was noticed and the couple was ostracised from the group.

“Homosexuality is nothing unusual among animals,” Bremerhaven zoo said on Wednesday. “Sex and coupling up in our world do not necessarily have anything to do with reproduction.”

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