Edinburgh Zoo penguins pick pebbles to impress potential mates

These heartwarming pictures show male penguins picking up shiny pebbles which they will use to impress potential mates.

Male penguins picking up shiny pebbles which they will use to impress potential mates. Picture; Katie Paton
Male penguins picking up shiny pebbles which they will use to impress potential mates. Picture; Katie Paton

As the mating season gets under way, the birds at Edinburgh Zoo have started building nests.

Staff have set up special nest rings, while the gentoos have been picking through a mound of smooth stones to find the perfect one to woo their mate with.

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Dawn Nicoll, their senior keeper, said: “Penguin breeding season is one of our busiest times here at Edinburgh Zoo and one of the most exciting.

Picture; SWNS

“After placing the nests and pebbles in Penguin Rock, it is fantastic to watch the gentoos pick out their favourite stone, find their mate and choose a nest together.

“It is quite common for gentoos to return to the same nest they have used year after year.”

Penguins typically court the same mate each breeding season but, contrary to popular belief, not all penguins mate for life.

Same-sex penguin partnerships are not uncommon and they tend to make great parents.

Picture; SWNS

And keepers will redistribute eggs from nests which have too many and give them to same-sex partnered penguins to rear.

Picture; SWNS
Picture; SWNS