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20170606 Grape the Humboldt penguin at Tobu zoo.jpg
Grape-kun staring up at a rock in his enclosure
SpeciesSpheniscus humboldti
Hatched(1996-04-16)16 April 1996[1]
Hamura, Tokyo, Japan
Died (aged 21) at Tobu Zoo[2]
Miyashiro, Saitama, Japan
OwnerTobu 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, Hululu, earned him international fame. Grape-kun began to have health issues in early October 2017, and the zoo announced his death on October 12.

Early life[edit]

Grape-kun was born at Hamura Zoo in Tokyo in 1996.[1] 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.[3][4] After a decade-long relationship, Midori later left him for a younger penguin, which led Grape-kun to become isolated from the other penguins.[5][3][6]

Attachment to anime character cutout[edit]

In April 2017, Tobu Zoo placed 60 cutouts of characters from the popular anime series Kemono Friends around the grounds to attract visitors.[7] The cutout placed in Grape-kun's enclosure, Hululu, was an anthropomorphic Humboldt penguin.[8] 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.[7] Zookeepers had to separate Grape-kun from the cutout for part of the day so he would eat.[7][8] Media outlets described Grape-kun as having fallen "in love",[4][7][8][9] and the zoo created a drink called "Loving Grape" described as a "perfect embodiment" of the penguin's relationship with his love.[4]

Grape-kun's devotion to the cutout earned him fame and a global fan base on the Internet.[4][7][8] Hululu's voice actress, Ikuko Chikuta, visited Grape-kun as part of an educational event on penguins.[8] A festival honoring Grape-kun was planned, but his health began to decline in October. The zoo announced his death on October 12.[9] Zoo personnel created a small shrine in his honor, and several guests visited the penguin enclosure with flowers.[9][2] Social media users paid tribute through the hashtag #grapekun, and many posted illustrations of Grape-kun and Hululu.[2] 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.[10]



  1. ^ a b "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.
  2. ^ a b c "Romantic penguin dies, with object of desire by its side". The Straits Times. Agence France-Presse. 15 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ a b c d Gladwell, Hattie (23 May 2017). "Elderly penguin falls deeply in love with an anime cut-out". Metro. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  5. ^ Coleman, Alestair (13 October 2017). "Japanese zoo mourns anime-loving celebrity penguin". BBC News. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c d e 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.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Penguin Grape-kun meets voice actress of his anime girl 'waifu'". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 21 May 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  9. ^ a b c 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.
  10. ^ Lasic, Gillan (2018-01-10). "Internet famous penguin 'Grape-kun' got reunited with his anime wife as a cardboard cutout".

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Grape-kun at Wikimedia Commons