At Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Japan, a Humboldt penguin has found an unusual mate. Unusual in that it is two-dimensional.
The penguin, named Grape, had begun gazing at an image of Hululu, an anime character from Kemono Friends, who was designed to look like a Humboldt penguin. The cutout was placed into the zoo enclosure as part of the zoo’s collaboration with the anime TV show.
Zoo staff told the writers at BuzzFeed News that Grape has a bit of a tumultuous history with love. Grape came to the Tobu Zoo 10 years ago, coupled off with a real penguin Midori. This penguin still lives in the same penguin enclosure…love triangle!
But a little while ago, Midori actually left Grape, for a younger penguin. Grape has since been a bit isolated from the group of penguins in the enclosure. Perhaps leading to his attraction to a cutout, vaguely, penguin-ish anime girl. Who would have thought penguins have this much drama…
Obviously, it is hard to verify that Grape actually has feelings for Hululu. However the zoo staff does claim that Grape’s habits suggest he has some warm feelings for the cutout. The keepers say, “Grape has definitely started going to that spot since we installed [the cutout],” the keepers said. “He might have mistaken it for staff, but it’s certain that he goes there because he’s attracted to something.”
We are just trying to figure out if this whole situation is more cute or sad…
The penguin even took a picture with Ikuko Chikuta-the voice actress for Hululu. And boy does Grape look confused in this photo.
This ~quirky love story has enthralled people around the world. The unlikely couple is major inspiration for deviant art-core fan art. Perhaps people relate to the penguin for wanting to be with an imagined character. The whole thing feels like the penguin equivalent for an anime body pillow. Who would’ve thought that type of thing carries over across species?