Depraved penguins: I don’t recall this topic being explored in “March of the Penguins” or either of the “Happy Feet” movies, but apparently they’re out there, performing all sorts of sexual activities that would surely raise the eyebrows of even the most open-minded of animal lovers. It’s worth noting that this article isn’t child-friendly, so if you have any curious youngsters around, perhaps it’s time for an Angry Birds break. You’ve been warned.
During explorer George Murray Levick’s expedition to the Antarctic between 1910 and 1913, the intrepid adventurer came across a most perplexing site: Penguins, and lots of them. And while their appearance wasn’t shocking in and of itself, what he discovered while observing the animals in their natural habitat shocked him to his core. Although you wouldn’t know it by looking at them, but penguins have a penchant for sexual debauchery, which Levick chronicled in paper he published following his return.
“Hooligan bands of half a dozen or more and hang about the outskirts of the knolls, whose inhabitants they annoy by their constant acts of depravity,” the explorer wrote in a study entitled “Natural History of the Adelie Penguin”. In addition to homosexual tendencies and a few bouts of necrophilia, Levick also witnessed rape and the sexual abuse of chicks.
So shocking and gasp-inducing was his discovery that this particular aspect of his adventure was entirely removed from the paper. Later, a piece entitled “Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin” was privately published and distributed to a select group of experts. His findings predate similar studies performed some 50 years later.
Levick’s paper was thought to be lost, that is, until a copy was unearthed by Douglas Russell, a bird curator for the Natural History Museum.
“Adelies gather at their colonies in October to start to breed”, Russell explained. “They have only a few weeks to do that and young adults simply have no experience of how to behave. Hence the seeming depravity of their behaviour.”
Their endless dancing doesn’t seem quite so innocent, after all.