The Reason This Lovesick Penguin Is Crushing On A Cardboard Cutout Is Heartbreaking

By Travis Greenwood

Meet Grape, an adorable Humboldt penguin that has lived at the Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Japan for about 10 years.

When Grape first arrived, he was in a serious relationship with Midori, a female penguin.

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Over time, the couple's bond frayed, however, and she later flew the coup for a younger penguin fella — which is harsh, but eminently relatable, because most of us have experienced rejection and heartbreak in some form, amirite?

Officials with the zoo say that Grape has since wrestled with bouts of depression, even going so far as to withdraw emotionally from the other penguins that he shares his space with. 😢

But it appears he may be ready to love again.

The only problem? His new would-be bae is an anime character from Kemono Friends, which according to Wikipedia is a "Japanese media franchise created by manga artist Mine Yoshizaki."

Thanks to a collaboration between the show and the zoo, illustrated cutouts of Kemono's characters have recently been erected around the zoo — and this includes the penguin pen, where the figure of Hululu stands atop a big rock.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Grape's handlers revealed that the forlorn bird is obsessed with the anthropomorphic totem and stands by it for hours on end, waiting patiently for a sign — any sign, dear lord — that his crush will be requited.

"Grape has definitely started going to that spot since we installed [the cutout] ... He might have mistaken it for staff, but it's certain that he goes there because he's attracted to something."

While the object of his affection may be unusual, Grape's nesting habits, the zookeepers add, are not at all atypical for the species, who are typically monogamous and prefer to reunite with the same female during mating season year after year.

Thanks to the power of social media, Grape's woes have circulated widely in Japan, where public sympathy crested earlier this month when Ikuko Chikuta, the voice actress for Hululu, posed for a picture with the lovesick critter. 💗 💗 💗

Naturally, the internet had some feelings about this feel-good moment, and fans were ready to ship the new pair with GIFs and drawings.

Will Grape finally fill the void in his heart? We'll update the story when we learn more!