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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world

Gay ducks derail repopulation plan

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Why are all the good blue ducks gay?


That's what Cherry, the last remaining lass of her kind in England, may be asking herself after two male prospects that might have helped her perpetuate the species fell for one another instead of for her.


"They stay together all the time, parading up and down their enclosure and whistling to each other as a male might do with a female he wants to mate with," Paul Stevens, the warden at Arundel Wetland Center, tells the Telegraph.


The boy birds, Ben and Jerry, were introduced to Cherry, but to no avail. "Cherry showed some interest in him," Stevens told the newspaper, referring to Jerry. "She displayed typical mating behavior—she approached him and called to him, she even looked like she was nesting. We thought it was great and it was all going to happen, but nothing ever did."


Feathers flew, however, when Ben and Jerry were shacked up together. "To our surprise, the two males really took to each other and it was obvious that they really liked each other," Stevens said, adding: "Ben and Jerry do make a lovely couple."


Ben and Jerry aren’t the first gay members of the animal kingdom. Roy and Silo, penguin residents of the Central Park Zoo in New York City, mated there a decade ago—among the 1,500 species that have been observed engaging in homosexual activity. But Ben and Jerry's coupling is bad news for blue ducks in England, where the threesome is thought to be among the only such birds in the country, the Telegraph reports. Blue ducks are native to New Zealand and are threatened with extinction, according to that country's Department of Conservation.


As for Cherry, she's taking Ben and Jerry's relationship in stride, Stevens told the Telegraph. "Cherry doesn't seem bothered by it," he said. "She's just happy to keep to herself."

Image of Blue Duck by Karora via Wikimedia Commons

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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