It is a season of new beginnings for one zoo in Central New York. It's the first time that two same-sex penguins have successfully raised an egg together at the zoo. A major milestone for CNY and even for the future of animals.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse is well known internationally for their Humboldt penguin program. At least two breeding pairs of penguins at the zoo have a history of accidentally breaking their eggs. To combat this, zoo keepers swap out a dummy egg for the real one, giving it to foster parents so it stands a better chance.

That's where Elmer and Lima come in.

The two male penguins paired up this fall for the breeding season and have been inseparable. They built a nest and defend their territory, proving they were ready to try fostering. Ted Fox, Rosamond Gifford Zoo Director, says not all pairs are good at incubating eggs.

Some pairs will sit on the nest but leave the egg to the side and not incubate it correctly. Elmer and Lima were exemplary in every aspect of egg care.

Rosamond Gifford Zoo via Facebook
Rosamond Gifford Zoo via Facebook

The pair began incubating an egg on December 23rd, laid by the penguins Poquita and Vente. By January 1st, the chick was hatched and the male pair continue to brood and feed the baby.

Elmer and Lima's success at fostering is one more story that our zoo can share to help people of all ages and backgrounds relate to animals

Fox says Elmer and Lima show that "family" does not need to be species specific. For many cases, non-traditional families will do a great job of child-rearing.

Here's a fun fact! Elmer the penguin got his name because his egg was damaged by his parents during incubation. To fix this, the animal care team used Elmer's glue to mend the cracks.

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