Donald and Daisy, and Molt and Bubbles have already mated. Olive and Popeye had shown signs of sexual engagement last month

Molt, Bubbles, Donald and Daisy have put an end to the will-they-won't-they conundrum. These Humboldt penguins at the Byculla zoo have mated despite the authorities initially assuming that they were too young to mate. The penguins are believed to be aged between 2.5 and 3 years, while the ideal age for mating is 3.5 years. BMC sources said Molt and Bubbles have mated, as have Donald and Daisy. Dr Sanjay Tripathi, zoo director, said, "We believe two pairs have mated." But unless eggs are laid, we can't be certain.

Also Read: Byculla Zoo authorities: Humboldt penguins too young for sexual activity

The zoo had prepped the penguins for mating -- the mating season is April-May and October-November. As of last month, the penguins had shown signs of "sexual engagement", but were considered too young to indulge in any sexual activity. Tripathi had said then that the penguins had been vocalising with each other -- a sign of impending mating. "But, they haven't had intercourse. They are too young for sexual activity," he had said.

Olive and Popeye had also paired up with each other then, although there is no confirmation on whether they have mated as well. Flipper, a female, is the only loner now.

The BMC sources said the mating is being viewed a sign that they have acclimatised to Mumbai and have started displaying behavioural changes.

The penguins are 2.5-3 years old. Officials said 3.5 years is the ideal age for mating. Humboldt penguins' incubation period lasts 40-42 days, and eggs take 34-35 days to hatch.

The zoo officials are hopeful that by the October-November season, the penguins will display more sexual activity.