I’m sure most of you have heard of a penguin in Japan who fell in love with a cardboard cut-out of an anthropomorphic penguin from the Japanese hit anime Kemono Friends.
The character, called Hululu who was placed in the penguin enclosure at Tobu Zoo in Saitama Prefecture as part of a limited-time promotion for the anime.
Other anthropomorphized animal characters from the series were scattered throughout other areas of the zoo as well.
While the other animals paid no attention to the cardboard cutouts, Grape-kun, the Humboldt Penguin became so enamored by his 2-D visitor. He just simply couldn’t tear his eyes away from her.
Shortly after that, photos of Grape-kun staring up at Hululu for hours began surfacing online, he completely stole the hearts of netizens.
He even got to the point where he forgot to eat because he was so infatuated with Hululu, thanks to that, he had to be isolated from her for a while until he resumed his normal feeding habits.
Due to Grape-kun’s intense attachment to the anime cut-out, the zookeepers decided to keep Hululu in the closure even after the promotion had ended.
The penguin’s popularity even inspired an exclusive drink made in his honor.
According to SoraNews24, the zoo announced on October 9 that they will be holding a special “Autumn Grape Festival” from November 11 – 25, featuring the all-loved Grape-kun.
However, 2 days after posting up the exciting news, Grape-kun’s physical condition deteriorated. The zoo tweeted out and informed everyone that Grape-kun would not be appearing in his enclosure until further notice.
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) October 11, 2017
The tweet reads,
“Notice of Grape-kun ceasing to be on display. After observing a change in Grape-kun’s physical condition, we are treating it as a matter of importance so from today, Grape-kun will not be on display. Also, Hululu has been moved together with Grape-kun. We apologise for the concern, but request your understanding.”
All of Grape-kun’s fans and supporters sent in their well wishes via Twitter hoping that Hululu would be able to nurse Grape-kun back to health.
However, taken into consideration, Grape-kun was already 20 years old and Humboldt penguins have an average lifespan of about 20 years in captivity, so people were having grave concerns for his recovery.
“Get well soon, old man Grape.”
Sadly, everyone’s worst fears were realized today when the zoo announced that Grape-kun had passed away via Twitter, yesterday morning, October 13.
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) October 13, 2017
The Tweet reads:
“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.”
Moments later, fans from around the world sent messages and fan arts to commemorate the lovable penguin.
At least Grape-kun’s beloved Hululu was with him until the very end. It’s very likely that the zoo will hold some sort of memorial or event in honor of Grape-kun and Hululu’s memory.
While we wait for the zoo’s plan, we would like to extend our condolences to Grape-kun’s friends at Tobu Zoo and the zookeepers as well. You’ll be missed, little buddy.
You’ve lived a great life, we will see you next time, rest in peace.