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This penguin and cardboard cutout love story is one for the ages

Forget Romeo and Juliet, Jack and Rose or Jake and Neytiri. One of the greatest love stories of all time has played out at the Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro. This is no work of fiction, either – it’s the real deal.

Like any great love story, this one is a tragedy (do you see a theme in the above?) so prepare yourself for a tale of star-crossed lovers.

The story begins with Grape, a 21-year-old Humboldt penguin living at the zoo.

In April, a cardboard cutout of Hululu, an anthropomorphised female penguin character from the anime Kemono Friends was placed in Grape’s enclosure as part of a marketing campaign.

BBC News reports that Grape’s relationship with Midori – his mate of a decade – was on the rocks so he started to turn his affections towards Hululu.

Over the next few months, the Tobu Zoo Twitter account posted pics of Grape standing in front of Hululu, seemingly besotted. According to The Independent, Grape was seen with his wings outstretched and his beak point up – a stance used in penguin courtship ritual.

But the course of true love never runs smoothly.

When Hululu was removed due to a typhoon, Grape was noticeably upset and later became so infatuated that he forgot to eat. It got so bad that zookeepers decided Grape and Hululu needed some time apart and separated them for a while.

When the promotion ended and it was time to remove Hululu, the zookeepers just didn’t have the heart.

Hululu remained in the enclosure when Grape fell ill in October and the zoo has confirmed that he has sadly passed away.

The silver lining is he died in the presence of his betrothed, staying with her until the end.

All these classic love stories have the same ingredients.

It goes like this: two individuals (Romeo/Juliet, Jack/Rose, Jake/Neytiri, Grape/Hululu) from different worlds (Montague/Capulet, poor/rich, Earth/Pandora, zoo/anime) meet and cannot be together. Then they hook up and one of them dies.

If you want to make a billion bucks go ahead and rewrite this tale. And if you don’t believe me, ask James Cameron – he is responsible for two of the above and has made gazillions.

Grape and Hululu’s love is already getting the full meme treatment online so there is definitely some potential there.

Brb, going to go work on my screenplay.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter