Two same-sex couples have formed as the Gentoo penguins at a London aquarium go through their annual mating season.
With Sea Life London Aquarium set to reopen to visitors on Monday, guests should be able to witness all the couples among colony performing their mating rituals.
Among them are two all-female couples – Marmalade and Chickpea, and Marama and Rocky.
General manager Catherine Pritchard said: “Without a doubt, our Gentoo penguins are one of our most loved creatures and we’re so pleased that we’re able to reopen our doors in time for guests to be able to witness their amazing courtship rituals.
“Gentoo penguins are the ultimate romantics, and their dating techniques are truly unique – so much so that as humans, we could certainly learn a thing or two from their passion and commitment to finding a mate.
“As well as our male-female penguin couples, this breeding season we also have two female same-sex couples who are also going through their nesting rituals.”
Mating rituals among the penguins involve one – usually a male – gifting a pebble to a potential mate.
The pebbles are then used in building nests for any eggs that are laid.
The birds at the aquarium are closely monitored during mating season, with aquarists keeping an eye on their nesting progress and regularly weighing the birds.
Ms Pritchard said: “Our expert care team are monitoring the penguins’ progress and we’re hoping that we’re lucky enough to add a new chick to the colony when we welcome guests back.”
Same-sex penguin couples are relatively common and sometimes adopt eggs that are abandoned by other couples.