Sydney Aquarium's gay penguin couple gifted egg to foster

A same-sex penguin couple at Sydney Aquarium have been given a mock egg to look after so they don't feel left out during breeding season.

Sphen and Magic, known as Sphengic, begun their relationship a little under a year ago and have proven to have a special bond ever since.

Staff at Sea Life Aquarium noticed that as mating season approached the couple begun building a nest out of pebbles in preparation for potential off-spring and were inseparable.

Their nest quickly became the biggest in the attraction.

Gentoo penguins in their natural habitat.
Gentoo penguins in their natural habitat. Photo credit: Oceanwide Expeditions

Since they can't produce their own eggs together, caretakers decided to give them their own fake egg to look after.

After being given the dummy egg the couple were seen sharing daily duties, one keeping the egg warm and one patrolling the area around their nest.

Having proven themselves as natural parents, the aquarium has gifted the couple a real egg of their own to foster.

The aquarium says the time with the fake egg gave Sphengic time to develop their parenting and incubation skills.

"Whilst Sphen is older and is excellent at incubating, Magic is younger and still mastering his skill. The pair makes a great team, and there are often days where the egg cannot be seen (which is really good for penguin breeding!)."

The penguins in the Macquarie Island exhibit are gentoo penguins, and are a near-threatened species.

They are the fastest-swimming penguins in the world, reaching speeds of 36km/h. They are also the third-largest penguin in the world.

The breeding programme at Sydney Aquarium is in its first year, and intends on becoming the most successful in the world.