A handful of zoos in Japan have teamed up with the popular children’s series “Kemono Friends” to promote the show by placing stickers and cardboard cutouts featuring the anime girls from the cartoon series in and around the enclosures of their live animal counterparts.
Keepers at the Tobu Zoo were surprised to see that Grape-kun, a 20-year-old Humboldt penguin, had apparently taken a strong liking to the cutout of “Hululu,” the penguin-girl placed on a rock inside the penguin exhibit. It quickly became apparent to zoo visitors and staff that Grape-kun preferred to hang out with Hululu as opposed to spending time with the rest of his flock.
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) May 16, 2017
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) April 26, 2017
Poor Grape-kun wasn’t always attracted to 2D women. He actually had a real penguin mate named Midori when he was a ten-year-old in the prime of his life. Unfortunately, Midori abandoned Grape-kun for a younger penguin, but considering that he spends all of his time sitting and staring longingly at his flat friend, it seems that Grape-kun has moved on with his life.
The passionate penguin has provided plenty of publicity for the Tobu Zoo, and Grape-kun has gathered a flock of Internet fans who post fan art of the unusual couple on social media. Even Ikuko Chikuta, Hululu’s voice actress, made an appearance at the zoo to meet Grape-kun in person (although the flightless Casanova seemed far more interested in his loyal cutout). “To everyone one who came to the talk show, thank you very much!” she wrote on Twitter. “Thank you, Yamada-oniichan and Grape-kun.”
— 築田行子 (@ckik195) May 20, 2017
Alas, their love may not last, as Hululu was recently moved just outside of Grape-kun’s home to ensure that the elderly penguin doesn’t slip and fall into his pool outside of operating hours. Grape-kun can still sit and watch his cardboard crush from a safe distance for now, but I just hope that the little guy will get to keep the cutout when the promotion event ends on June 25…