Animals

The Story Behind These Two Widowed Penguins Gazing At The Skyline Will Melt Your Heart

If you're lucky enough to be with the person you love right now, this will make you hug them tighter.

During times of uncertainty, it can be helpful to turn to the natural world for comfort and inspiration. While many of us humans around the globe attempt to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, images and stories of animals are sometimes our best bet for finding joy amidst the confusion and fear of the current health crisis.

This is why a photo of two snuggly Australian penguins gazing at Melbourne’s city skyline has been resonating with people online — despite having been snapped a year ago. In 2019, photographer Tobias Baumgaertner captured on film a moment of affection between two penguins. The photos show the penguins, one male and one female, cuddling next to each other and gazing at the glittery evening skyline of Melbourne, Australia.

Baumgaertner simply thought it was a great shot, but the sweet story that accompanies the moment adds another layer of poignancy. On March 25, Baumgaertner posted the photo on Instagram, and wrote about the penguins’ beautiful love story in the caption.

“These two Fairy penguins poised upon a rock overlooking the Melbourne skyline were standing there for hours, flipper in flipper, watching the sparkling lights of the skyline and ocean,” the photographer wrote.

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During times like this the truly lucky ones are those that can be with the person/people they love most. I captured this moment about a year ago. These two Fairy penguins poised upon a rock overlooking the Melbourne skyline were standing there for hours, flipper in flipper, watching the sparkling lights of the skyline and ocean. A volunteer approached me and told me that the white one was an elderly lady who had lost her partner and apparently so did the younger male to the left. Since then they meet regularly comforting each other and standing together for hours watching the dancing lights of the nearby city. I spend 3 full nights with this penguin colony until I was able to get this picture. Between not being able or allowed to use any lights and the tiny penguins continuously moving, rubbing their flippers on each other’s backs and cleaning one another, it was really hard to get a shot but i got lucky during one beautiful moment. I hope you enjoy this moment as much as I did. #lovewillalwayswin • 📸 @tobiasvisuals •Shot on Nikon Z6, Nikkor 50mm 1.4, ISO 8000, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/60 sec

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But there’s a whole other layer of heartwarming tenderness to this image.

“A volunteer approached me and told me that the white one was an elderly lady who had lost her partner and apparently so did the younger male to the left,” Baumgaertner explained on Instagram. “Since then they meet regularly comforting each other and standing together for hours watching the dancing lights of the nearby city.”

So, both penguins are widowed? Okay, we’re going to need a bigger box of tissues.

The Instagram post garnered over 21,000 likes — so, a few weeks later, Baumgaertner posted another adorable image from the same moment. This time the female is caught nuzzling the male penguin, and the scene comes with a caption that connects the bittersweetness of the birds’ love story with the emotional experiences many people are having around the world as they encounter illness and loss.

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Pinguins Part 2. “… Love is the only game in which we win even when we lose” The way that these two lovebirds were caring for one another stood out from the entire colony. While all the other penguins were sleeping or running around, those two seemed to just stand there and enjoy every second they had together, holding each other in their flippers and talking about penguin stuff. Pain has brought them together (see PART 1). I guess sometimes you find love when you least expect it. It’s a privilege to truly love someone, paradisiacal when they love you back. 📸 @tobiasvisuals • (Even though it is very similar to the previous image I thought it’d be a pity to not share it with you guys)

A post shared by Tobias Baumgaertner (@tobiasvisuals) on

“Pain has brought them together (see PART 1),” Baumgaertner wrote in the caption. “I guess sometimes you find love when you least expect it. It’s a privilege to truly love someone, paradisiacal when they love you back.”

Meanwhile, other animals the world over have been providing some laughs as they have taken to the streets and other urban areas that are usually overrun with humans while most people are staying indoors. With many roads now mostly deserted, some animals, like the goats in one Welsh town, have enjoyed the peace and quiet of their towns during the quarantine.

In Llandudno, a coastal community west of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, a herd of Kashmiri goats has been coming into town and nibbling on the local shrubbery while the town’s humans have been sheltering in place.

Journalist Andrew Stuart began reporting on the goats’ whereabouts on Twitter and, well, the whole thread is a true delight to read, especially once you reach the tweet in which Stuart just gives up and accepts his new goat overlords:

Thank goodness for animal hijinks during difficult times!