DENVER — This is a breakup that's sure to ruffle some feathers.
Denver Zoo's famous same-sex flamingo pair Freddie Mercury and Lance Bass have parted ways after a years-long relationship that made headlines in the national media.
Their breakup was amicable, the zoo said.
"Mating for life isn’t necessarily true for all birds, and our keepers have noticed that some birds in long-term relationships sometimes decide to move on and pair up with other birds," the zoo said.
Back in 2019, Freddie – an American flamingo who's bright pink – and Lance – a Chilean flamingo with lighter feathers – wanted to be together all the time. They engaged in mating behavior and built a nest together. If a breeding couple ever abandoned one of their eggs, Freddie and Lance could take over surrogate parenting duties.
The pair's relationship got national attention, including coverage by CNN and People magazine.
The couple broke up in the second half of 2020. They drifted apart over a period of time and stopped engaging in the behaviors they showed before, according to zoo spokesperson Carlie McGuire.
Flash forward three years, and 52-year-old Freddie has paired up with Lommi, a 14-year-old female American flamingo.
"Lommi has been around Freddie for nearly her entire life without any indication of a bond before, so keepers aren’t exactly sure why these two decided to pair up," the zoo said.
Freddie came to Denver in the 1970s. Before Lance came along, Freddie was in a monogamous relationship with a female flamingo for years.
As for 20-year-old Lance, who was born at the zoo, he hasn't formed a new bond with another bird yet, but he might abandon the bachelor life in the future. Denver Zoo has 80 Chilean and American flamingos to choose from.
He might also find that the zoo's new flamingo habitat – slated for opening next year – will help spark a new romance. It'll have indoor and outdoor spaces and topography inspired by Lance's ancestral homeland of the Andean highlands.
Same-sex bird couples aren't unheard of. The zoo also had a same-sex pair of male lorikeets named Trey and Apollo, though those lovebirds are no longer an item. Apollo is now with another male named Mercutio, McGuire said.
"Some birds are in male-female breeding pairs. Some birds are in same-sex bonded pairs," the zoo said. "Some birds are mated pairs their whole lives, some will have multiple partners in their lifetime and others won’t have a mate at all.
"Our flock allows our birds to choose who they decide to form associations with and we’re happy to celebrate their pairings this month and every month. Happy Pride!"
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