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Watch: Move Over, Gay Penguins — Two Male Flamingos Are This Year's Pride Poster Birds

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Jun 13, 2019
Watch: Move Over, Gay Penguins — Two Male Flamingos Are This Year's Pride Poster Birds
  (Source:Screen capture / CBS4, Denver)

Most of us have grown accustomed to stories of zoos with same-sex penguin couples who, it seems, make for great parents when it comes to fostering eggs and raising chicks. But not every gay bird in the world looks like he's wearing a tuxedo. Take Lance Bass and Freddie Mercury, for example — they are a same-sex couple of male flamingos who live in the Denver zoo, and whose story local news channel CBS4 reported on just in time for the Mile-High City's Pride celebrations.

Freddie Mercury — named after the famed, and famously non-heterosexual, member of the rock band Queen — arrived at the zoo in 1970, the CBS article said, while the younger in the couple, Lance Bass — named for another singer, a member of the boy band *NSYNC — was hatched at the zoo in 2001.

Despite their more than three-decade age difference, however, the two love birds are a devoted match. What's far more remarkable, the CBS news report said, is that they are two different species, with Freddie Mercury being a Caribbean flamingo and Lance Bass being a Chilean flamingo.

Their caretaker, Brittney Weaver, told the media that the two have been an item since 2014.

"[W]e started noticing them hanging out and spending a lot of time together then we saw them participating in all those courtship behaviors," Weaver recalled. "and then when they finally built that nest we knew."

Weaver added that the birds' names were not mere coincidence. While all the zoo's flamingos have been dubbed with the names of human musicians, she said, in the case of the two male flamingos, "we wanted to name them appropriately for their relationship."

As for whether Freddie Mercury and Lance Bass would ever foster a chick, the way that Roy and Silo — the famed gay penguin dads in New York's Central Park Zoo who hatched and raised Tango, and whose story is told in the children's book "And Tango Makes Three" — did, the zoo mused in a Facebook post that it's very much a possibility, reported People Magazine.

"While these two males won't be able to have a chick of their own, they are able to act as surrogate parents if a breeding pair is unable to raise their chick for any reason," the zoo's post noted.

The birds already have at least high-profile fan: The original Lance Bass, who took to Facebook to share his delight.

"This is the best!" Bass declared. "I hope Lance is the one w the frosted tips!!"

The zoo responded with a comment saying that Bass' hope was indeed true.

Watch the CBS news video below.


Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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