A famous "lesbian" swan couple is making waves in Boston this week.
As gay blogger BosGuy is reporting, Romeo and Juliet, two graceful swans to call Boston's Public Garden their home, will be released on May 1 after spending the winter at a nearby zoo. Despite the birds' names, however, they are actually both females.
In 2005, park officials believed they had a male-female pair when eggs turned up in their nest, and the birds began guarding them. As swan gender is apparently difficult to determine, officials only took a closer look when the eggs didn't hatch -- and discovered, to their surprise, that both birds were in fact females. "I’m not sure what the divorce rate among swans is like but they’ve certainly outlasted many of their human counterparts," BosGuy writes.
Still, as Change.org blogger Dana Rudolph noted in 2010, the swans' Shakespeare-inspired monikers are actually quite appropriate. "Many a gay or lesbian teen has his or her own tale of forbidden love and parental disapproval," she wrote. "Some, alas, are just as tragic as those of Shakespeare’s pair. Perhaps the example of the beloved Public Garden swans will help to change that."
As heartwarming as Romeo and Juliet's aviary "romance" is, however, whether or not the swans are truly "gay" remains a mystery. Though Dr. Frank Beall, the general curator of Zoo New England, told ABC in 2005 that a male swan would likely be "driven off" if he were to be introduced at this stage in the relationship, he also noted Romeo and Juliet might not have decided to mate if there had been more males around to begin with. "Here you have two birds of the same gender who gravitated toward each other," he said. "They had no other choice. If there were more birds, both male and female, perhaps there would be another story."
The release of the swans has become a beloved annual tradition in Boston. "We talk about spring coming, this is really the official start of the spring season in our city and the official start of the Public Garden’s operation," Boston Mayor Tom Menino told CBS last year.
Check out some other intriguing cases of "gay" animals below:
Though speculation over the true nature of Buddy and Pedro's relationship continues, the African penguins will soon be separated and paired with females for breeding.
A bisexual penguin love triangle? In 2009, Harry and Pepper, two male penguins at the San Francisco Zoo, were a "couple" who even briefly raised a chick together when zookeepers gave them an egg. But Harry eventually left Pepper for Linda.
Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap penguins, met in 1998 at the water tank in Central Park Zoo. After they eventually raised a chick hatched from another penguin's egg, their "relationship" became the subject of the children's book "And Tango Makes Three."
Germany's Bremerhaven Zoo has been home to several pairs of same-sex penguins. In 2009, Z and Vielpunkt, two male Humboldt penguins at Germany's Bremerhaven Zoo, became the proud new parents of a healthy penguin chick."Another couple threw the egg out of their batch. We picked it up and put it in the nest of the gay penguins," veterinarian Joachim Schöne is quoted as saying.
Ninio was moved to a zoo in Poznan, Poland in hopes he would sire a herd, but the elephant showed a lack of interest in females, and his attitude toward fellow males was described as "affectionate."
As Haaretz reported in 2009, two male vultures (not pictured) named Dashik and Yehuda once engaged in a "fiery romance" at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo that made headlines in the international media, even building a joint nest. The birds' "relationship" eventually dissolved, when they eventually paired off with females, but, in a surprise twist, those females laid eggs on the same day, which also hatched on the same day.
As Pink News is reporting, Carlos and Fernando, two male flamingos at Britain's Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (not pictured), "came out" as a couple in 2001 and even raised chicks together after they stole eggs from neighboring straight couples.