Real Life Gay Penguins Raising Eyebrows…

They say that penguins mate for life. A male and a female penguins pair off and spend their lives together raising children. Awww, how sweet eh? It’s a tale as old as time (or at least since penguins were invented) and I’m sure it’ll continue forever. But a penguin couple in the Toronto Zoo are raising some eyebrows with their coupling habits. Buddy and Pedro are a same-sex couple.

“They do courtship and mating behaviours that females and males would do,’’ one keeper said.

These include the practice of “braying”, a sound like that of donkeys, as mating calls. They defend each others territory, they preen each other and stand alone together for hours on end. These two little bird brains are inseparable. And it’s not the first rime homosexual tendencies have been noticed in penguins. In fact, a children’s book has been written about this very subject, “And Tango Makes Three”, and it’s based on the story of Roy and Silo, a pair of male penguins that exhibited mating habits who were observed trying to hatch rocks together. With their interest piqued, the zookeepers experimented by giving the same-sex couple a real egg to hatch out to see if the could manage it. It turned out they could and the product of which was a female chick called Tango.

This story doesn’t have a happy ending though. Due to Buddy and Pedro belonging to the endangered African penguins species, zookeepers plan to split them up and pair them off with females penguins in order to protect the species. Poor things.

Internet users have been weighing in on this topic and it’s drawing the kind of comments you’d expect. They range from gay rights activists to people condemning the act of penguin homosexuality. My opinion is that they are obviously displaying signs of a relationship (or “pair bonding” as they call it in zoo speak) but at the same time I can see the need to split them up. After all, the zoo is trying to protect the species. But it’s an interesting tale.

As as an aside note, my dad once observed same-sex tendencies in racing pigeons. My dad has kept pigeons for most of his life and he recalls a pair of male pigeons that would always try to shack up in the same nest box together. It was a funny tale to me as a young boy, but I can definitely see the parallels today…

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ANTmageddon!

Courtesy of www.antweb.org (cc)

Picture this. It’s a full moon. You’re taking your dog for it’s last walk of the evening. Suddenly you hear a rustle in the bushes. Against your better judgement you decide to check out what the commotion is. Upon closer inspection you realize that the bush it teeming with little red fuzzy ants, dancing around as if they were on crack. You see one crawl onto your shoe and you swat it with your hand. Immediately your shoes become covered with hundreds more ants with vengeance on their minds. They’ve got a pack mentality and you’re in big trouble…

Yes, that first paragraph read like a low-budget horror movie, but the south-east of the United States is currently under attack from a swarm of ants much like these. They’ve been dubbed the “Crazy Ants.” These ants, the Nylanderia pubens (scientific term), are currently running roughshod over the south-east.

This crazy ant revolution began in Houston, Texas. They are thought to have been imported into the United States via cargo from the Caribbean. Since their arrival they have been terrorizing anything and everything that gets in their way.

They are known for their erratic behaviour. When one is killed, the dead ant secretes a scent that attracts it’s fellow crazy ant brethren, and in a matter of seconds the dead body is joined by hundreds of it’s ant brothers ans sisters. Because of their pack mentality, these little buggers are destroying crops and beehives at an alarming rate. They’re also destroying things that you wouldn’t expect such at wiring and buildings. This really is becoming a huge problem. And it’s a huge problem that is sweeping eastwards. There have been crazy ant sightings in Louisiana, Mississippi and as far as Florida.

So beware folks. The crazy ants have arrived. Hide your pets, make sure you know where your children are and be prepared for ANTmageddon…

Note: The accompanying picture is courtesy of http://www.antweb.org under the creative commons agreement.