Animal lovers are heartbroken after the Denver Zoo announced its iconic gay flamingo couple has called it quits during Pride Month.
The Colorado zoo made headlines in 2019 when it shared with the world that the two male birds – named after LGBTQ+ celebs Lance Bass and Freddie Mercury – had been in a relationship for several years. Zookeepers even said Lance, a Chilean flamingo, and Freddie, an American flamingo, acted as surrogate parents if a breeding pair in the flock weren’t able to raise their chick.
But it would appear that the queer flamingos’ love story has finally come to an end.
The Denver Zoo shared in a Facebook post celebrating Pride Month that Lance and Freddie had ended their relationship after years of being together.
While the zoo didn’t initially give any more information, it explained that flamingos are “extremely social by nature” and flocks consist of several “collections of partnerships” – including “strong bonds between same-sex pairs”.
“While our famed, same-sex couple Chilean flamingo Lance Bass and American flamingo Freddie Mercury are no longer a pair, they were paired up for several years and acted as surrogate parents if a breeding pair was unable to raise their chick,” the zoo wrote.
“Our flock is 75 birds strong, which allows our birds to flamingle with a variety of individuals and personalities, giving them many options on who to form associations with.”
Some people on Facebook were left reeling after Denver Zoo nonchalantly dropped the bombshell, and the zoo apologised in a follow-up post for ‘ruffling some feathers’ concerning the break-up.
The organisation wrote that it was sorry for “leaving everyone in the dark so long” as to why the same-sex flamingo couple split. It assured animal fans that both Freddie and Lance are in “good health, weren’t separated and their break up was amicable”.
“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 wrote.
The Denver Zoo explained Freddie has moved onto a new relationship with a 14-year-old female American flamingo named Iommi. The pair have been around each other for Iommi’s entire life without “any indication of a bond before” so keepers “aren’t exactly sure why these two decided to pair up”.
Lance is currently enjoying the single life as workers at the zoo haven’t “noticed him in a new concrete bond with anyone else at the moment”.
The Denver Zoo clarified that some birds in the flock are “mated pairs their whole lives”, some will have “multiple partners in their lifetime” and “others won’t 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,” the zoo said. “Happy Pride!”