The cheating penguin, the husband and her lover

Written By Tyler Wilson

Finally, we have conclusive proof that some penguins really aren’t nice at all. Read on and we’ll introduce you to the phenomenon of the cheating penguin and some other horrific habits they’ve managed to pick up.

The featured video footage from National Geographic is a fascinating insight into the world of the cheating penguin. The film shows an adult male returning to his wife only to discover she’s with her new lover. A fairly vicious battle ensues between the male rivals resulting in a comprehensive beat down of the husband. To add insult to injury the female unashamedly champions her new mate in front of her bloodied and battered former partner. The above behavior might not be a huge revelation to the nature-savvy. However, the brutality of the cheating penguin has never been captured as clearly up until now.

A cursory google search reveals that the cheating penguin is not the only despicable bad egg in the penguin community. Penguins appear to be a ruthless and an incredibly shady bunch. Examples of kidnappingprostitution and not being nice to albino penguins are easy to find.

The cheating penguin
As the new breeding season approached Bob was desperately trying to remember his Tinder password (Wikimedia).

Even the oscar winning March of the Penguins,  narrated by Morgan Freeman, was not without controversy. The film followed the breeding season of an Emperor Penguin colony in Antarctica. Upon release the film fueled clashes between the Christian right and American liberals. Christian conservatives asserted that the penguins in the film should be upheld as an example of traditional family values.

Scientists quickly de-bunked these claims and the films director Luc Jacquet is certainly aware of the cheating penguin trait. Jacquet even chimed in with the following response: “I condemn this position. I find it intellectually dishonest to impose this viewpoint on something that’s part of nature. It’s amusing, but if you take the monogamy argument, from one season to the next, the divorce rate, if you will, is between 80 to 90 percent… the monogamy only lasts for the duration of one reproductive cycle. You have to let penguins be penguins and humans be humans.”

In fact the darker side of penguins has been recorded as far back as the early 1900’s.
Dr. George Murray Levick was a scientist attached to Captain Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic between 1910-13.

George Murray Levick
A cheating penguin was the least of Levick’s worries. He encrypted his alarming findings using Greek to prevent discovery (Wikimedia).

What Levick discovered was judged too offensive to be revealed to the public 100 years ago. Levick’s work included the study of Adélie penguins and uncovered practices of homosexuality, necrophilia and the sexual bullying of adult and child female penguins. The scientist was so concerned about the implications of his research that he recorded all of his findings in Greek. Levick believed that this would safeguard his research and ensure that only a learned gentleman could understand his findings.

Levick's Adélie Penguins
Tuesday’s Necrophilia Anonymous meeting was so busy that Eric and his friends were turned away (Wikimedia).

So there you have it and whilst the footage above is fascinating it certainly doesn’t seem to be unusual. The female is just selecting a new mate for the upcoming breeding season. As Luc Jacquet states, this is estimated to happen in 80-90% of Emperor penguin pairings.