Two male penguins in the San Francisco Zoo, who began a relationship as adolescents in 2003, have “broken up” after the introduction of a female penguin.

Harry and Pepper have in the past nested as a couple and even raised a healthy chick from an abandoned egg together.

“Of all of the parents that year, they were the best,” zookeeper Anthony Brown told the San Francisco Examiner. “They took very good care of their chick. He ended up being the largest chick on the island.”

However a female penguin formed a bond with Harry shortly after her previous mate passed away.

“That was the fastest we’d ever seen penguins move on,” he said. “To be completely anthropomorphizing, Linda seems conniving. She’s got her plan. I don’t think she was wanting to be a single girl for too long.”

After spending some time together, both Linda and Harry approached Pepper’s pen. The former couple began fighting, and Pepper had to be removed.

Linda and Harry have successfully managed to nest together this year, and Pepper has been brought back to the exhibit at the Avian Conservation Center.

Fans and zookeepers wait to see what will happen next. “That’s the big question,” Brown said. “It’s moulting season in late July and early August, and around that time we see couples getting shaken up. It’ll be interesting to see if Harry spends any of that time with Pepper. We’ll have to wait and see.”

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