Penguins are turning to prostitution. Where I have been wrong as an activist

World: Asia-Pacificfrom BBC
Pick up a penguin

Penguins are turning to prostitution. But instead of doing it for money, Antarctic dolly-birds are turning tricks to get rocks off their menfolk.

Stones are essential for penguins to build their nests. A shortage has led to the unorthodox tactics.

“Stones are the valuable currency in penguin terms,” said Dr Fiona Hunter, a researcher in the Zoology Department at Cambridge University, who has spent five years observing the birds’ mating patterns.

Prostitution is described as the world’s oldest profession. But Dr Hunter is convinced it is the first time it has been seen in animals.

Penguin partners

All of the female penguins Dr Hunter observed trading sex for stones had partners.

Penguins stick to the same mate, she said, but none of the males twigged what was happening.

“There was no suspicion on the part of the males. Females quite often go off on their own to collect stones, so as far as the males are concerned there is no reason to suspect.”

She added: “It tends to be females targeting single males, otherwise the partner female would beat the intruder up.”

Dr Hunter and Dr Lloyd Davis of the University of Otago watched the penguins at work on Ross Island, about 800 miles from the South Pole as part of a Antarctica New Zealand programme.

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For all those who wish to do research on sex work

I just came across this post at eminism.org and felt it appropriate to share here.

I’m sure that you’d understand, but activists do not exist to help you do your homework. Every moment activists spend talking to you (including the time it takes to read your email, think how to respond, and write a response) is a moment that they could be doing something else, most likely something more worthwhile. If you wish to grab attention of activists to your project and have them help you do your homework, you need to make it worthwhile to them: what do activists gain from helping you, or how would it help the work they are doing?