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SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s male-male penguin couple go to Mardi Gras 2021

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s male-male penguin couple go to Mardi Gras 2021
February 11, 2021

Lending their support for diversity in NSW’s education curriculum, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is partnering with the NSW Teachers Federation to take inflatable versions of the famous male-male Gentoo Penguin couple Sphen and Magic and their two chicks to Mardi Gras on 6th March 2021. 

They will appear in this year’s Mardi Gras Parade at the Sydney Cricket Ground with a very loud and very proud message – incorporate more LGBTQI+ content and diverse families into NSW’s education curriculum.

With the aquarium’s full support, the Federation’s float will pay homage to the internationally recognised penguin family while sending a message of love and support to all rainbow families – especially those with young children in school.

The float will feature two large versions of the penguin parents wearing rainbow bowties to communicate their same-sex attraction. Following the dapper duo will be smaller penguins representing the pair’s healthy chicks and their beautiful rainbow family. Additional participants will wear sequinned dinner jackets aka penguin suits with rainbow bowties while dancing and marching with inflatable balls symbolising snow.

Sphen and Magic went viral in 2018 when the male-male couple successfully adopted and incubated an egg at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. The hatched chick was named Lara by its Penguin Carers but nicknamed by the public as SPHENGIC after her parents.

The duo reunited in 2020 to set up a nest and adopt their second egg, which successfully hatched in November 2020. The second child’s arrival went viral in the same month, along with the news of six other Gentoo Penguin chicks hatching at the aquarium during the same breeding season.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium General Manager Richard Dilly notes “we are incredibly honoured to have made friends with an organisation that is as motivated to support LGBTQI+ communities and rainbow families as much as we are here at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

“Young people need and deserve to see themselves reflected in the content that they learn at school and we hope Sphen and Magic’s inflatable replicas at Mardi Gras can contribute to ensuring this happens now and in the future.”

Mel Smith, Deputy Secretary Communications and Administration and Officer attached to LGBTQI Matters added “in 2020, the Federation was attacked by One Nation in NSW for encouraging teachers to incorporate diverse families in their curriculum. We know that it’s vitally important for young people to see themselves reflected in the content that they learn in order to feel connected to their school experience, as well as to feel seen and acknowledged.

“The family mentioned in Federation’s training was Sydney’s own same sex penguin couple Sphen and Magic. So, as a result, our float this year pays homage to Sphen, Magic and their two chicks, and sends a message of love and support to all rainbow families - especially those with young children in school. The float sends a message that we will not be bullied into silence and that we celebrate our LGBTIQ members, students and community - including our gay penguin neighbours.”

Learn more about the NSW Teachers Federation and its mission to incorporate more LGBTQI+ friendly content in NSW’s curriculum by clicking here.

For more information on SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium go to

Related Articles

13th January 2021 - Over 100 endangered White’s Seahorses born at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

13th November 2020 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium celebrates recycling week with Seabin commitment

22nd October 2020 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium appoints Laura Simmons as first female Displays Curator

12th October 2020 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium creates environment to conserve endangered White’s Seahorse species

25th September 2020 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium changes rockpool exhibit to reflect local ecosystems

20th July 2020 - Panasonic helps deliver live streams from SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium penguin exhibit

20th January 2021 - Australian attractions share their penguin encounters on Penguin Awareness Day

1st August 2020 - Five Year Action Plan launched to save New Zealand’s endangered hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin

13th March 2020 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium offers fund-raising shark dive and dine experience

28th March 2019 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium officially opens its Animal Rescue Centre

2nd June 2018 - Sea Life Sydney Aquarium awarded for offering best large animal exhibit

5th January 2017 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium welcomes colony of sub-Antarctic penguins

25th May 2016 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium to launch world-first penguin experience

14th November 2013 - SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium unveils newly refurbished little penguin homes

16th July 2012 - Sydney Aquarium to relaunch as SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

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