HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
JUNE 24,2005 19
A new book follows the true story
of a pair of gay penguins and their
daughter at the New York Zoo.
Tango makes three'
WHO DOESN'T LIKE PENGUINS? THE
dapper flightless birds are revered by
young and old. Flipping on
Entertainment Tonight recently, you may
have caught an entire segment on the
Warner Independent documentary called
"March of the Penguins." complete with
waddling Emperor Penguins walking the
Wide-eyed children proclaim to the
camera lenses "We love them, everybody
does right?" and "I just love their suits!"
and "I wanna be a penguin!"
The scene changes to an average day on
AM radio in Houston. Up and down the dial
commentators proclaim the truth as they
see it. Gays and lesbians are often vilified,
attacked and eventually taunted with the
question "If homosexuality is so normal,
why don't we see it in the animal kingdom?"
The simple answer is we do. Look at
Roy and Silo, two real penguins who live
in the Central Park Zoo. The story of Roy
and Silo is now available in a charming
book called "And Tango makes Three."
Illustrated by Henry Cole, and written
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell,
the tale of Roy and Silo should bring a
tear to the most jaded eye..
Their story became public when The
New York Times outed the penguin pair
in a February 2004 article called, "Love
That Dare Not Squawk Its Name."
In the article, Dinitia Smith recounted
how for more than six years, Roy and Silo
have exhibited what in penguin parlance
is called "ecstatic behavior." They
entwine their necks, they vocalize to each
other, they have sex.
WHEN OFFERED FEMALE
companionship, both adamantly refused.
And female penguins showed little interest in them as well. They are "to anthropomorphize a bit" gay penguins.
Roy and Silo were so committed to
each other that they attempted to incubate egg shaped rocks on several occasions in their flawless nest.
Central park Zoo's Rob Gramzay took
note of their attempts and in 2000 finally
gave the pair a fertilized egg from a
That egg was cared for and eventually
produced the baby. Tango, who was
raised like any other penguin.
•f) MORE INFO
'And Tango Makes Three'
Simon & Schuster Books for Young reader 4 -
Simon & Schuster New York
'And Tango Makes Three' chronicles the love life of
gay penguins and their adopted daughter.
Following along with Roy and Silo,
readers can't help but cheer the two on.
On a recent jaunt to the Aquarium of
the America's in New Orleans, this
reviewer brought along a copy of the
book, "And Tango Makes Three."
After the zoologists had finished feeding the in-house penguins, he was asked
about the tale of Roy and Silo. While he
had no direct knowledge of the duo, he
said "Well, there have been over 450 different documented examples of same-sex
coupling in the wild.
Have you heard about those lesbian
seagulls? Talk about commitment! Most
people would be surprised to find committed same-sex animal couples."
The open discussion of homosexual
behavior in animals is relatively new.
Frans de Waal, whose 1997 book,
"Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape" saw an
onslaught of differing opinions on animal sexuality Bonobos apes closely related to humans, are wildly energetic sexually. Nearly all are bisexual and nearly
half engage in same-sex activity
However Paul L. Vasey, a professor of
psychology and neuroscience at
University of Lethbridge in Canada,
warns about drawing such conclusions.
"For some people, what animals do is a
yardstick of what is and isn't natural.
They make a leap from saying if it's natural, it's morally and ethically desirable."
According to the authors note at the
end, "If you go to the Central Park Zoo,
you can see Tango and her parents splashing about in the penguin house along with
their friends. ..There are forty-two chin-
strap penguins in the Central Park Zoo,
and over ten million chinstraps in the
world. But there is only one Tango."
Maurice Sendak of "Where the Wild
Things-Are" said this of "Tango": "A
touching and delightful variation on a
major theme." Harvey Fierstein said,
"This wonderful story of devotion is
heartwarming proof that Mother Nature
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Invites You to W^et Houston Public Leaders
and Add Your Input to Title I Allocations
Learn about the 2005 Update to the
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This televised Public Hearing Will Be Held At
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900 Bagby Street. Public Level. Downtown Houston
7:00pm, Monday, June 27, 2005
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