Everybody say it with me now… "awwwwwww…"
From the Telegraph UK:
A pair of Magellanic penguins have remained faithful to each other for 16 years, according to researchers who have been monitoring the birds and have shown they can travel up to 10,000 miles a year in their search for food and love.
It is a story of epic journeys and enduring love.
A pair of Magellanic penguins has been revealed as among the most faithful of couples in the animal kingdom.
Their relationship has spanned 16 years – almost their entire breeding life – despite spending long periods apart and each of them taking solo trips totalling 200,000 miles.
Yet each year they have returned to the same nest, and each other, to produce a new brood of chicks.
Now they have grown old together – the penguin’s natural lifespan means they normally die around 20 years after they start breeding.
Biologists have expressed surprise at the endurance of the couple’s relationship as most pairings are cut short by either the death of one of the penguins during their long sea journeys or a failure to successfully produce chicks, which are often killed by predators or hunger.
Research has revealed a tragic twist to Magellanic penguin relationships – if a couple ever fails to successfully hatch their chicks then they will “divorce”, leaving each other to find new partners.
The longest relationships between penguins previously seen by researchers have been between five and ten years before tragedy strikes and they fail to breed successfully.
The tale, which would rival any romantic novel, has emerged as part of a 30-year study of Magellanic penguins, one of the most abundant but poorly-understood flightless birds on the planet.
They spend their summer breeding season on the Patagonian coastline of southern Argentina, where researchers put metal identity bands on the flippers of 50,000 birds to follow their progress.