Feathers fly as German zoo separates gay vultures to make them mate

GERMANY'S gay community is outraged after a homosexual couple were forcibly parted to be made to mate with females.

Guido and Detlef have become the poster boys for intolerance of their alternative lifestyle - despite the fact they are both male vultures.

And despite ruffling the feathers of homosexual activists, who believe what happens to animals could one day happen to them, the decision to part the birds from the nest which they built together stands.

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What the tabloids would term "a right carrion" began back in March when Guido and Detlef began their homemaking together at the Allwetter Zoo in the British Army garrison town of Mnster, in north-west Germany.

The goose vultures, or griffon vultures - Gyps fulvus - showed no interest in any female company. They were happy in their own world, grooming one another in between rearranging the sticks which made up their nest - even though the other vultures kept stealing them, as if to spite their "arrangement".

"They always sat so closely together," said keeper Dr Dirk Wewers. "They defended their nest from the other vultures.

"A suitable female was missing and in such a case vultures look for companionship from the next best thing, even if it is a male.

"Detlef looked for a bird of the opposite sex, but settled with Guido."

But Guido was removed last week and replaced by a female bird from the Czech Republic who, it is hoped, will tickle Detlef's fancy, among other things, and help him create little vultures.

"Detlef is reorienting himself now," added Dr Wewers, who dismissed criticism from gay groups at the decision to break up a happy home.

So far, Detlef and the un-named Czech bird have yet to bond. Guido, transferred 400 miles east to a zoo in Ostrava, Czech Republic, is also reportedly not too enamoured with the heterosexual lifestyle now being forced upon him.

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Will it be too late to teach an old vulture new tricks? Both Detlef and Guido are 14 and it is uncertain that the libido of either can live up to the expectations of keepers.

The birds have also provoked an outpouring of support among gay humans. There has already been one small protest near the zoo gates, with a group of activists standing beneath a rainbow flag, and the German blogosphere has waded into the argument.

"This is like in the dark Middle Ages, forcibly making a creature sexually reorient itself by tearing its partner from its side," wrote one angry gay vulture lover online.

"While the Roman Catholic Church in the arc-conservative area of Muensterland is jubilant, homosexual federations and animal protection organisations from the whole world over are indignant."

Five years ago a public petition saved the gay penguins of Bremerhaven Zoo from being split up.But outrage came too little, too late, for Detlef and Guido.

As night fell over a cold and windy Mnster last night, there was still no sign that Detlef was about to fall prey to the delights of his eastern temptress.

"There's still time," said a zoo spokesman. "It is for the best."