Grape-kun staring up at a rock in his enclosure.
16 April 1996|
Hamura, Tokyo, Japan
(aged 21) at Tobu Zoo|
Miyashiro, Saitama, Japan
|Owner||Tobu Zoo, Miyashiro, Saitama, Japan|
Grape-kun (Japanese: グレープ君 Hepburn: Gurēpu-kun) (April 16, 1996 – October 12, 2017) was a Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) at Tobu Zoo located in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. His attachment to a cutout of a character from the 2017 anime series Kemono Friends earned him international fame. Grape-kun began to have health issues in early October 2017, and the zoo announced his death on October 12.
Grape-kun was born at Hamura Zoo in Tokyo in 1996. He was named because of the color of the purple ring placed on his wing for identification; the word "kun" is a Japanese honorific usually used when speaking to younger males. It is also commonly used for male pets. Along with his mate, Midori, he was transferred to Tobu Zoo in 2007. After a decade-long relationship, Midori later left him for a younger penguin, which led Grape-kun to become isolated from the other penguins.
Attachment to anime character cutout
In April 2017, Tobu Zoo placed 60 cutouts of characters from the popular anime series Kemono Friends around the grounds to attract visitors. The cutout placed in Grape-kun's enclosure, Hululu, was an anthropomorphic Humboldt penguin. Grape-kun would stare at the cutout for hours, going as far as trying to reach the cutout, which was placed on a tall rock. Zookeepers had to separate Grape-kun from the cutout for part of the day so he would eat. Media outlets described Grape-kun as having fallen "in love", and the zoo created a drink called "Loving Grape" described as a "perfect embodiment" of the penguin's relationship with his love.
Grape-kun's devotion to the cutout earned him fame and a global fan base on the internet. Hululu's voice actress, Ikuko Chikuta, visited Grape-kun as part of an educational event on penguins. A festival honoring Grape-kun was planned, but his health began to decline in October. The zoo announced his death on October 12. Zoo personnel created a small shrine in his honor, and several guests visited the penguin enclosure with flowers. Social media users paid tribute through the hashtag #grapekun, and many posted illustrations of Grape-kun and Hululu. In January 2018, Tobu Zoo placed a new cutout in the penguin enclosure, featuring Hululu and an illustration of Grape-kun standing side-by-side.
- "東武動物公園からのお知らせ" [Notice from Tobu Zoo] (PDF) (Press release). Tobu Zoo. 13 October 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
- "Romantic penguin dies, with object of desire by its side". The Straits Times. Agence France-Presse. 15 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- Isashi, Keigo; Rachael, Krishna (22 May 2017). "This Story About A Penguin Falling In Love With An Anime Cutout Is An Oscar-Worthy Love Story". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
- Gladwell, Hattie (23 May 2017). "Elderly penguin falls deeply in love with an anime cut-out". Metro. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- Coleman, Alestair (13 October 2017). "Japanese zoo mourns anime-loving celebrity penguin". BBC News. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
- Schwartz, Drew (13 October 2017). "Love Is Dead, and So Is the Penguin Who Fell for a Cardboard Cutout". Vice News. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- Rogers, Jon (2 May 2017). "Pick up a penguin? Humboldt bird falls in love with his future waifu placed in his pen". Daily Express. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
- "Penguin Grape-kun meets voice actress of his anime girl 'waifu'". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 21 May 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
- Bayle, Alfred (15 October 2017). "Grape-kun, the anime girl-loving penguin, dies; fans mourn loss of a comrade". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- Lasic, Gillan (2018-01-10). "Internet famous penguin 'Grape-kun' got reunited with his anime wife as a cardboard cutout". Inquirer.net.
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