OK, hope you’re not feeling overly sentimental today, because this is bound to get something in your eye. Grape is a penguin who’s spent his whole life at the Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Japan. Earlier this year, he gained a little viral notoriety for falling in love with a cardboard cutout of Hululu, a character from a popular Japanese anime show called Kemono Friends.
After being rejected by a former mate, Grape began spending most of his time hanging out next to Hululu, using some penguin mating rituals to attract her attention. The zoo staffers were so charmed by the unlikely romance between penguin and cardboard anime character that they left Hululu’s picture up even after the campaign she’d been promoting ended, and Grape stayed by her side—even growing clearly worried when she was briefly removed from the enclosure during a rainstorm.
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) August 29, 2017
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) September 3, 2017
Alas, life—unlike true love—is a fleeting thing. Grape was in his twilight years and Tobu Zoo announced that he had fallen ill and then sadly passed on from this mortal coil. The Tobu staff left Hululu by his side the entire time to comfort his departure.
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) October 13, 2017
Here’s the Twitter announcement translated to English (“kun” is a Japanese honorific).
The Humboldt penguin Grape-kun passed away yesterday. Sincere thanks to everyone for 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.
Grape’s fans were heartbroken over the announcement, and a few of the more artistically inclined ones even created a few tributes.
— Apex. (@wolftekku) October 13, 2017
This is so sad, I really did not expect it, we'll miss you friends, rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/zR0lmNiBaD
— Ramiro R. Alexander (@xDZzRamirozZxD) October 13, 2017
Rest well, weary Grape. May the love you felt in life guide you to those everlasting shores on the glacial melts of Heaven, where the krill are plentiful and the cardboard cutouts can talk back. Rest in peace.