The staff at The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire got creative when a baby flamingo was abandoned by its mother and father and needed surrogate parents.
Carlos and Fernando, the only gays in the bird sanctuary, were the automatic choice.
The pair have already brought up three chicks after snatching eggs from other (mixed) couples.
This time they were to have one of their own.
For flamingoes, as for humans, bonding with baby is vital. The parent birds need to hear cheeping from within the egg then see the chick hatch.
So staff at the trust placed the abandoned youngster in a broken egg, taped it up and placed it in Carlos and Fernando’s nest. Soon afterwards it emerged good as new.
WWT spokeswoman Jane Waghorn said: “Fernando and Carlos are a same sex couple who have been known to steal other Flamingos’ eggs by chasing them off their nest because they wanted to rear them themselves.
“They were rather good at sitting on eggs and hatching them so last week, when a nest was abandoned, it seemed like a good idea to make them surrogate parents.
Jane Waghorn added “They have really bonded with the chick and are very good at being protective parents – finally to one of their own,”
“Flamingoes raise their young in groups and the couple are acting just like the other proud parents by watching out for others’ young as well as their own.”
The pair, who have been together for six years, can feed their chick without any female help, by producing milk in their throat. It will be two years before its sex is known.
The chick, who is being brought up in a “creche” with 15 other newborns, has been welcomed into the flock, under the watchful eye of its new parents.
Flamingos, although monogamous during breeding periods, usually find a different partner each year, making the enduring love of Carlos and Fernando all the more remarkable.
“They only have eyes for each other,” said Nigel Jarrett, a keeper at Slimbridge.
“They will probably stay together for the rest of their lives.”
Alongside their heterosexual neighbours, Carlos and Fernando perform an elaborate courtship dance twice a year before settling down to build nests.
The mating ritual involves elaborate preening and strutting. The males are the most energetic, waving their heads vigorously from side to side with their necks at full stretch.
Mr Jarrett says that both Carlos and Fernando take on the male roles during the courtship dance, but because they cannot produce eggs of their own, they steal them from the 800 flamingos in their colony.