An old penguin who fell in love with a cardboard cutout of an anime character died at the ripe age of 20 years old – an advanced age for such a creature – marking the end of a romance that captivated visitors who cheered on the unlikely marriage between the flightless bird and its 2D paramour.
Grape-kun, a penguin who lived at the Tobu Zoo in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, was catapulted to local celebrity status after he developed unmistakable feelings for his cardboard cutie in April after an advertisement campaign placed the two lovebirds in the same enclosure, the Daily Mail reported.
Just like in all true love stories, Grape had to jump over hurdles to end up with his true partner. He was enamored with a female penguin named Midori for a whopping ten years, but when Midori left him for a younger specimen, Grape quickly rebounded by courting a cardboard cut-out of a character from Kemono Friends, a popular anime series.
At first, zookeepers did not think that Grape would have any interest in Hululu, an ultra-cute character whose outfit resembled penguin colors. But when Grape started eschewing flesh and blood mates for the cardboard beauty, they realized that he had become smitten and would take no other alternative than his new sweetheart.
Their observations were painfully confirmed when a storm caused zookeepers to remove the Hululu cutout from Grape’s enclosure. The elderly penguin was so distraught that his anime girlfriend was returned to him as soon as possible, marking the first interspecies romance between penguin and anime waifu.
“The Humboldt penguin Grape-kun passed away yesterday,” the zoo’s staff wrote on Twitter. “Sincere thanks for everyone supporting him until now. Thank you also to Hululu, who watched over him until the very end. And thank you, Grape-kun, for all this time. Rest peacefully in heaven.”