Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who are Those Queers?

Brought to you by Pistol Pete

The story of Roy and Silo is straight out of daytime TV. The two male chinstrap penguins were the first gay penguin couple to “go public” with their relationship, causing a flurry of praise and condemnation in the fight for the moral soul of America. Their biograpghy was later turned into a highly successful children’s book And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. The two raised a chick, Tango, who grew up to become a homosexual. After six years of bliss, Roy and Silo’s domestic partnership came to an end when Silo started an affair with Scrappy, a younger, thinner female penguin who had been Roy's best friend.

Silo and Roy: the way they were.

The touching story began in 1999, when Silo and Roy, who lived in the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, were observed trying to hatch a rock as if it were an egg. Their chief keeper, Rob Gramzay gave them a fertile egg that needed care to hatch. Roy and Silo sat on it for the typical 34 days until a chick, Tango, was born. For the next two and a half months they raised Tango, keeping her warm and feeding her food from their beaks until she could go out into the world on her own.

Mr. Gramzay is full of praise for them."They did a great job," he said. He was standing inside the glassed-in penguin exhibit, where Roy and Silo had just finished lunch. Penguins usually like a swim after they eat, and Silo was in the water. Roy had finished his dip and was up on the beach.

Silo, Tango and Roy share a laugh.

Tango is now a healthy young female penguin. She has formed a relationship with Tazuni, another female penguin, and the paired the last two mating seasons.

The 2005 semi - biographical children's book on the pair, And Tango Makes Three, received critical acclaim and was awarded several accolades, including the American Library Association's Notable Children's Book award. Authors Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson were quoted saying, "we've been very heartened by the majority of librarians, journalists, and readers who've responded so favorably to the book, who've embraced it strongly, and who are strong in their response to the critics, and in their desire for the book to remain available to everybody."

In 2005, Roy and Silo separated, after some six years of paired behavior, with Roy remaining single. Silo found another partner; a female called Scrappy, but became single again in 2006. However their story has had a lasting effect on both the penguin and human species.

Though the couple is no more, their inspiration lives on.

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