Broody male penguin couple adopt egg left at Berlin Zoo

Two mail penguins adopt an abandoned egg. DH Photo for Representation

A pair of male king penguins at Berlin Zoo are fulfilling a long-standing ambition to become parents, by adopting an egg abandoned by its mother.

Ten-year-olds Skipper and Ping had previously displayed their instincts as nurturers by trying to hatch stones and even fish, a zoo spokesman said.

Their encounter with the real thing came last month after a king penguin mother abandoned an egg - and they jumped at the chance.

"We just had to put it in front of one of the males. He immediately knew what to do. This is the first time we have tried to have a same-sex penguin couple incubate an egg," keeper Norbert Zahmel said.

So far the surrogacy seems to have worked out. "Both are looking after the egg in an exemplary manner," he told local newspaper B.Z.

In the wild, traditional king penguin couples share incubation duties.

If things continue to go well and the egg proves to be fertile, Skipper and Ping should become proud parents by early September. 

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