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Penguin who fell in love with a cardboard cutout dies by its side

A penguin in a Japanese zoo, who warmed the hearts of the internet by falling in love with a cardboard cutout, has sadly passed away by the side of his dear beloved. Grape-Kun, and elderly male penguin, fell in love with the cardboard woman after she was placed in his pen by the zoo as part of an advertising campaign.

It was love at first sight for Grape-kun, who quickly fell in love with the character and spent every waking moment guarding her. When staff tried to remove to cutout from his pen at the end of the campaign, Grape-kun became inconsolable and depressed, leading to his keepers returning it back to his enclosure. The penguin then saw out his days happily under the eyes of his partner, until his death last week.

Grape was kept at Tobu Zoo, whose staff reported that the infamous 20-year-old penguin had passed away after he struggling in battle with an illness.

The love-struck penguin did once have a fellow penguin lover, but it ended in controversial circumstances. After 10 long and beautiful years of monogamy, Grape's partner, Midori, left him for a younger penguin. Essentially, she got herself a toyboy.

But Grape-kun slowly crawled back up to his feet and found love again... with a cutout. The love story has been broadcast to millions of people and has no doubt warmed the heart of each and every one of them.

The zoo staff and fans of the penguin became deeply concerned about his mental welfare when he appeared depressed and downtrodden after being dumped by his wantaway girlfriend. Grape-kun refused to spend time with other penguins, choosing to spend time alone as a recluse. But when he met his new love, the penguin started to come out of his shell once again.

The cutout was of a character from the anime series Kemono Friends. She strongly resembles the colour pattern of a penguin, something which many people have claimed is the reason behind this love story.

Throughout their time together, Grape was seen exhibiting rituals of courtship in her direction. He had often been found extending his wings and facing her with his beak up, and it soon became clear that the senior citizen had fallen in love with her.

The cutout was removed during a period of stormy weather in Japan, but after she went missing, Grape became completely heartbroken, leading to staff quickly returning her to him.

After his death, the zoo tweeted:

"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"

RIP Grape-kun; thank you for being the lead in quite possibly the most adorable love story that we have ever seen, we hope you and your cardboard cutout are reunited in heaven.