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Gay Dutch vultures become dads

Carrion parenting

A pair of gay Dutch vultures in a long-term relationship have become parents.

Job van Tol, a keeper at the Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam, told the BBC that the griffon vultures are "a very tight couple" and are doing a good job raising their hatchling.

He said: "We have had them for some years. They always build a nest together, bond and mate together... But, as two males, the one thing they could not do was lay an egg."

When staff found an abandoned egg that none of the other vultures would adopt, they placed it in the male couple's nest.

"It was a bit of risk as we had no guarantees of success, but we thought, finally, this is their chance," Van Tol said.

It is not unusual for animals, particularly birds, to form same-sex couples, but according to the zoo this is the first time gay vultures have hatched an egg.

In any case, it's a happier ending than the story of the gay Teutonic vultures, Guido and Detlef, whose forcible separation prompted protests by Germans.

Guido was transported to the Czech Republic, where he apparently showed little interest in the opposite sex.

According to researchers, the variety and ubiquity of same-sex hanky-panky in animals is impressive.

Nathan Bailey and Marlene Zuk of the University of California found thousands of instances of same-sex courtship, pair bonding and copulation in a wide range of species including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, molluscs and nematodes. ®

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