Penguin who fell in love with cardboard cutout dies next to it

Tobu Zoo/ Twitter

A penguin who fell in love with an anime character has passed away with his beloved at his side.

Trust us, you are going to want to step outside for a minute or two after reading this one.

Grape was a 21-year-old penguin who lived at Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Japan.

The elderly Humboldt penguin became an internet star earlier this year, after he grew attached to cardboard cut-out which was placed in his enclosure for an advert.

The cut-out was of an anthropomorphic female penguin called Hululu from the series Kemono Friends.

Grape is believed to have become attracted to Hululu after being rejected by a female penguin Midori, who he had been with for a decade.

He had become so attached to the character, zoo staff decided to leave her in the enclosure despite the promotion ending many months ago.

Grape was even spotted with his wings outstretched and his beak pointed upwards, which is a stance used in a courtship ritual indicating that a penguin wants to take a relationship to the next level.

His affections for Hululu were so strong that he became noticeably distressed after she was briefly removed during a typhoon.

Thankfully for him, she was soon returned.

Even after falling ill, staff allowed Grape to remain with Hululu until his passing, which was confirmed via their Twitter account on Friday.

The tribute translates as follows:

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.

The Kemono Friends Twitter account also marked the passing of Grape.

Grape's online celebrity status has grown to viral proportions in the past few months.

As you can imagine, news of his death has been greeted with an outpouring of emotion, memes and artwork from fans.

*sniff*Sorry, we're just going to have to excuse ourselves for a few moments.

HT Daily Mail

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