Denver Zoo's Same-Sex Love Birds Break Up

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday June 29, 2022

Freddie Mercury — the flamingo, that is — has left his longtime same-sex partner for someone new.
Freddie Mercury — the flamingo, that is — has left his longtime same-sex partner for someone new.  (Source:Denver Zoo/Keeper Anton M./Facebook)

It's bad news for Pride month: Freddie Mercury and Lance Bass have broken up. Not the Freddie Mercury and Lance Bass, of course, but their flamingo namesakes at the Denver Zoo, the Daily Star reported.

The pair had been a couple since 2014, but, the zoo explained in a June 24 Facebook post, "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."

That was seemingly the case here, with the older of the pair, Freddie Mercury, finding a new mate in "Iommi, one of our fourteen-year-old female American flamingos," the zoo's post recounted.

"Iommi 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."

"As for Lance, keepers haven't noticed him in a new concrete bond with anyone else at the moment."

It's a sad epilogue for a love story that captured attention during Pride season in 2019. As reported at that time, Freddie Mercury — named after the famed, and famously non-heterosexual, frontman of the rock band Queen — arrived at the zoo in 1970, while the younger in the couple, Lance Bass — named for another singer, a member of the boy band *NSYNC — was hatched at the zoo in 2001.

Caretaker Brittney Weaver told the media that the birds' names were not mere coincidence. While all the zoo's flamingos have been dubbed with the names of human musicians, she said, in the case of the two male flamingos, "we wanted to name them appropriately for their relationship."

"[W]e started noticing them hanging out and spending a lot of time together then we saw them participating in all those courtship behaviors," Weaver recalled, "and then when they finally built that nest we knew."

The zoo had initially posted about the pair going their separate ways on June 23, sparking concern from fans of the celebrity couple.

The zoo clarified the situation, posting, "Please rest assured that both Freddie and Lance are in good health, weren't separated and their break up was amicable."

Going on to note that "flamingos are incredibly social animals that form unique and intricate bonds," the zoo recounted that some of their flamingos "are in male-female breeding pairs. Some birds are in same-sex bonded pairs. 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," the post added. "Happy Pride!"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.