Sydney Aquaruim’s resident gay penguin couple Sphen and Magic will now give lessons about same-sex relationships and families to NSW school students.
The story of the gay penguin couple, who went viral in 2018 when they first paired up, and then raised chicks together, will be part of the NSW syllabus that teaches children about sexuality and consent. The lessons will be available to students from Kindergarten to grade two.
NSW Teachers Federation announced the collaboration with Sydney Sea Life Aquarium and informed teachers of the availability of resources to teach that love “comes in all shapes and sizes” through the story of the gay penguin couple.
Gay Penguin Couple Goes Viral
“Members can access a unit of work about SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s same-sex penguin couple, Sphen and Magic, aligned with the NSW syllabus, in the Knowledge Centre section of the Member Portal on the Federation’s website,” the Federation said in a post on Facebook.
“It’s segmented into pre-excursion, excursion or online excursion activities and post-excursion activities. The unit of work can be used in its entirety or learning activities can be used as stand-alone activities or part of your program,” the Federation added.
The story of the two Gentoo penguins Sphen and Magic first went viral in 2018 when their budding romance first made it to the news. Staff noticed the couple waddling and swimming together in the Penguin Expedition exhibit at Darling Harbour and then became inseparable ahead of the breeding season.
Foster Kids Are Born
During the breeding season, Sphen and Magic collected pebbles to create a nest and aquarium staff gave them a dummy egg to practise their parenting skills. Their parenting skills impressed the staff, who then gave the couple a real egg to foster.
The couple’s first foster chick Spengic was born in October 2018 and their second adopted chick Clancy was born in November 2020.
The beloved gay penguin couple and their foster chicks, in their giant inflatable versions, were part of the NSW Teachers Federation float at the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras float.
Penguin supervisory Kiera Ponting in 2021 said that Spen and Magic were one of the “most devoted couples in the colony” and a role model to others.
“They set a great example to the rest of the colony and we’ve noticed many of the newer penguin couples setting up their nests close to Sphen and Magic, which we think is them trying to learn from the best!” Pontin revealed.
Ponting told 2GB Radio last week that animals were a good way to impart lessons about inclusion, diverse relationships and why some students have same-sex parents.
Pontin said that penguins share “equal parenting duties” and “it doesn’t matter what combination of sexes you have with the parents”.