February 08, 2018

Love Stories From the Animal Kingdom Just in Time for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day may be a human invention, but this time of year it's important to remember that humans aren't the only creatures capable of feeling the love. This week we're looking at love throughout the animal kingdom! While there are adorable displays of affection among many species, here are a few that we found especially fun.

1. Humans Aren't The Only Ones Who Get Their Partners a Special Rock to Symbolize Commitment

Penguin Photo By Liam Quinn from Canada

Lots of bird species are monogamous with their partners, but Gentoo Penguins seal the deal with a rock. During mating season, male penguins rummage through thousands of rocks looking for the perfect gift for the the objects of their affection. Males sometimes even fight over stones they both want. Once a male Gentoo has found what he deems to be the perfect rock, he presents it to his special lady friend, and if she accepts the gift she puts it in her nest and the two are officially a couple from that point on. Gentoos take monogamy so seriously that cheating penguins are often banished from their whole penguin colony.

2. Bonobos Are All About Free Love

 Bonobos mating, Jacksonville zoo, FL. phot by Rob Bixby

On the contrary, bonobos don't care much for monogamy. Bonobos will pretty much hook up with any bonobo they meet. Like humans, bonobos have been observed engaging in open mouth kissing, and they are the only other primates besides humans known to engage in face-to-face sex. Homosexual encounters are the norm in bonobo culture, and scientists have observed bonobos using sex as a greeting, a method of social bonding, a tool for conflict resolution, and post-conflict make ups. We'll stick to handshakes and meeting our friends for beers, but you do you, you wild chimps!

3. Elephants Never Forget Their Besties

Shirley and Jenny via Elephant Sanctuary

Platonic love is alive and well in the animal kingdom, too! Elephant gal pals Shirley and Jenny were separated for over two decades before being reunited at a sanctuary. The two recognized each other right away and were so excited for a cuddle that they bent the steel bars separating them in their enclosures. After a sad life of captivity, we love Shirley and Jenny's happy ending. *sniff sniff* Shut up! I'm not crying! You're crying!

That's it for this week! We'll catch you next week on the other side of Valentine's Day. If you have a special someone, treat 'em extra-nice. If you don't, guess what? You're the REAL winner; no date means no judgmental looks when you house that heart-shaped box o' chocolates all by yourself!

Peace, love, and platonic cyber butterfly kisses,