Penguins just smell to find their mates

Zookeepers separated a devoted male penguin couple at the Toronto Zoo so each can mate and produce offspring.

The two birds became inseparable and showed signs of traditional mating behaviour normally seen between male and female penguins. These behaviours include the "braying" noise penguins use as a mating call; nesting, defending territory and preening each other.

Buddy, 20, and Pedro, 10, are endangered African penguins and zookeepers figured the healthy males could help the species survive after pollution and oil spills reduced their numbers.

The population of African penguins continues to decline and remains at around 224,000 birds worldwide today from millions a few centuries ago.

The plan to split to two penguins, who pair off together every night at the zoo, falls within a species survival plan among zoos.

"It's a complicated issue, but they seem to be in a loving relationship of some sort,'' Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto zoo board, said.

Buddy and Pedro arrived at the Toronto Zoo in May after being bred in captivity. The two immediately formed a connection and their relationship - referred to as "pair bonding" by the zoo - continued ever since.

Buddy and Pedro aren't the first gay penguins to grab the world's attention.

As part of an experiment in 2009, two male chinstrap penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo named Roy and Silo showed similar behaviour. At tehe time, zoo officials gave the pair an egg to hatch together and raise. Zookeepers named the chick Tango.

Children's book author Justin Richardson wrote 'And Tango Makes Three' based on the story of Roy and Silo. The book is listed on the 15 Most Controversial Picture Books because of the constant challenges made to it by parents and organized Christian groups.

Zoos in Japan, Germany and Sea World Orlando have also noted 'pair bonding' among penguins.