It's Brokeback Mountain at SF Zoo

Bizarre love triangle has lady stealing beau from his boyfriend

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Jul 22, 2009  |  Updated 8:39 AM PDT
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Kathleen Franklin

Who knew that a gay penguin could trade his affection from stags to hags?

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Gay penguins are often cited as an example of how homosexuality is perfectly natural -- so when an all-male couple is broken up by a lady penguin, feathers fly.

Turns out that Harry, a Magellanic penguin at the San Francisco Zoo, has been sniffing around ladybird Linda, scandalously ending his six-year common-law penguin marriage with Pepper, a male penguin.

Zookeepers had no idea that Harry swung both ways. But humans on both sides of the gay rights debate were quick to work Harry's decision into their talking points.

Of course, politicizing the love life of birds can also swing both ways, with LGBT and anti-gay advocates both weighing in on the debate.

One Christian web site opined that Harry's decision was evidence "nature prefers heterosexual relationships."

But leave the anthropomorphism to the furries, says the zoo's penguin keeper.

"There are people who are trying to draw conclusions from our birds, and I'm not really sure whether that can be done," Harrison Edell told the Los Angeles Times.

Good thing for Pepper that as a penguin he's probably pretty used to being left out in the cold.

As one recent zoo guest put it to the Oakland Tribune: "Is this something that only happens in San Francisco?"

Jackson West figures it must have all started with a W4MM ad on Craigslist. Photo by Kathleen Franklin.

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