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Penguins With Roving Eyes

Penguins aren't as monogamous as they've been thought to be, leading zookeepers to use DNA testing to work out bloodlines for their breeding programs, the New York Times reports.

Researchers from Utah Valley University recently reported in Zoo Biology that they sequenced the genomes of 19 Gentoo penguins living at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. They found that while the familial relationships that had been established by observing the penguins were largely reflected by what the genetic analysis found, they also uncovered differences. The genetic analysis revealed that one penguin had two offspring with another penguin who was not his pair-bonded mate.

"Most species that we think of as monogamous, including our very own species, we know that there's always an asterisk beside that," senior author Eric Domyan from Utah Valley tells the Times. "It's very rare to find monogamy in any species where there's 100 percent fidelity to one's mate. I expected that to be the case with penguins as well."

This, the Times adds, has implications for penguin breeding programs that aim to keep the population as genetically diverse as possible and has led the zookeepers there to keep a closer eye on mating pairs.