Aquarium penguins have a livelier social life than I do

Quarantine has been hard on a lot of people in several ways, but a major one being socially. Zoom calls just aren’t the same as in-person conversations and deciding whether to go on a first IRL first date with someone is a life-or-death decision.

Not for penguins. The penguins at the Kyoto Aquarium are apparently thriving socially in quarantine, so much so that their human handlers had to setup a flowchart to keep track of everything going on.

Researcher Oliver Jia shared the flowchart on Twitter, explaining that penguin relationship drama is very typical of the species.

A higher resolution image of the flowchart can be found here.

According to the handlers at Tokyo’s Sumida Aquarium, penguin relationships are pretty easy to observe. Wing-flapping is a sign of affection and couples who have defined the relationship will commonly be seen grooming each other.

Heartbreak is also pretty clear — penguins who have recently been broken up with will sometimes refuse to eat. One female penguin shown on the chart ended six relationships last year.

The comment below her picture, translated from Japanese, describes her as “basically demonic.”

Red hearts symbolize couples, purple lines with a question mark suggest more complicated relationships (will-they-won’t-they types) and blue, broken hearts means an ended affair. Yellow lines are friendship and green lines mark enemies.

Penguin drama of this magnitude was surprising for some Twitter users, who thought penguins mated for life. In reality, according to BBC, penguins — both male and female — “regularly cheat” and “break up” with their partners.

Bummed out that penguins don’t mate for life? Don’t worry, these hundreds of thousands of puffins do!

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