“Happy Feet” and “March of the Penguins” don’t seem so pleasant anymore.
A long-buried report by an Antarctic explorer has surfaced, painting penguins as sexual opportunists whose appetites can only be described as extreme.
George Levick, a surgeon and medical officer on Capt. Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910-1913 south polar expedition, penned a four-page pamphlet in 1915 relating his observations of Adelie penguins at Cape Adare. He was so scandalized by what he’d seen that he labeled the pamphlet “Not for Publication.”
It remained hidden for almost 100 years before researcher Douglas Russell recently discovered it at a British natural history museum. Levick’s notes have now been published in the Polar Record journal, according to Fox News.
Turns out our favorite tuxedo patterned flightless birds aren’t so civilized after all.
Levick watched male penguins gang up to abuse their female counterparts and commit necrophilia, among other things.
“I saw another act of astonishing depravity today,” he wrote in 1911. “A hen which had been in some way badly injured in the hindquarters was crawling painfully along on her belly. I was just wondering whether I ought to kill her or not, when a cock noticed her in passing, and went up to her. After a short inspection he deliberately raped her, she being quite unable to resist him.”
At another point, Fox reported, he wrote: “There seems to be no crime too low for these penguins.”
Of course, Levick was anthropomorphizing, taking the penguins to task for actions that would’ve been criminal in humans. Among the things that shocked him was seeing penguins having homosexual intercourse — something that is far from rare in the animal kingdom.
“Homosexual behaviors in animals are no longer cause for hiding data, or even a blush,” according to the Fox story. “Plenty of animals are out of the closet, so to speak, from dolphins and killer whales to bonobos and greylag geese. Some estimates put the number of animal species that practice same-sex coupling at 1,500.”