This Same-Sex Penguin Couple Is A Role Model for Fathers

Sphen and Magic welcomed their first baby at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.
IMAGE Getty Images / James D. Morgan

As a 20-something, I graduated college, came up with career aspirations, and then set to work to make those dreams happen. But then I got to a certain level and I feel like I've stalled. And what do you do when you aren't sure what the next stage in life should be? You look for inspiration. You look for something to kickstart your next chapter. So consider me blessed when I came across Sphen and Magic today. 

Sphen and Magic, nicknamed Sphengic, are members of Australia's most perfect same-sex penguin couple. On October 19, they welcomed their first baby chick into the world. According to the Sydney Aquarium, the chick, coming in at 91 grams (or about 3 ounces), is the first sub-Antarctic penguin in Australia since the colony was introduced to the Darling Harbour aquarium in 2016. 

But let's go back—back to the beginning. Sphen and Magic, a pair of Gentoo penguins, kicked things off the way many penguins do. In what may be the best party fact ever, multiple breeds of penguins start their monogamous relationships by presenting a pebble to one another. It's essentially a penguin proposal. According to the aquarium, the pair presented each other with pebbles (I like to believe it was an understated, but elegant pewter) and was going on swims and waddling around together leading up to mating season. Just perfect. But before they could become parents, they had to prove that they were capable of raising a penguin egg and were given a dummy in place of a real one. 


Long story short, they crushed their dry run at incubation. Sphen and Magic put together a rockstar nest made of pebbles that they found as a couple. They took turns as one incubated the egg on the nest while the other warded off pebble thieves. After a successful dry run, Sphengic was given a foster egg, which they incubated successfully. Though I don't speak penguin language, they look absolutely jazzed. 

What comes next is the crucial three-week period where they'll raise the unnamed chick by regurgitating food into its mouth. Parenthood, am I right? After that, they'll teach their chick to swim and deal with the opinions of people like famed Australian tennis player and staunch opponent of gay rights, Margaret Court. The chick's gender can't be determined for two months because male and female chicks show no physical sign of gender—a blood test this early could endanger the chick's life. 

But most important, Sphen, Magic, and their baby seem to be thriving, and if that's not an inspiration, then what is? I'm not saying that I'm looking to present anyone with a pebble yet, but let's put it this way: I'm keeping my eyes open for a good rock.

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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About The Author
Justin Kirkland
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture. Prior to Esquire, his work appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. He is from East Tennessee and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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