Do gentoo penguins mate for life?

Are these romantic pebble-giving penguins monogamous?

 

Yes, they do. When a male penguin finds his perfect female, he sets out on a search to find the best pebble to present to her, in the same humans get down on one knee for their love. The question that seems to be burning a hole is the size of the pebble – it doesn’t seem to matter to the female penguin, although the males fight for the best-looking ones. During mating season (spring to autumn) the female sits on a nest, while the males sift through the pebbles looking for the smoothest stone to present to their lucky female. Once a pebble has been selected, the male penguins present it to the chosen female and if she takes it to place on her nest, she has accepted him as her mate. The fear of rejection is the only concern that males face, while other males within the group suffer from pebble-envy and will attempt to steal the most handsome pebbles from other nests to take to their own lovely females. A matched pair will normally produce two chicks per year. Incubation lasts about 39 days, with shifts shared out between the mother and father. Chicks are ready to go to sea at eight weeks old but they return each evening to be fed by their parents for an additional two weeks.

 

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Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje

 

Photograph: David Stanley