A REAL-LIFE penguin love story has been playing out at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. The centre at Gweek normally takes in seals, of course, particularly seal pups who are treated at the animal hospital. However it is also home to Humboldt penguins. Last year, a new bird called Pine by staff was introduced to the sanctuary’s resident colony.
It was hoped he would pair-up with single female Lola. The blind date was featured on television documentary Caroline Quentin’s Cornwall, but viewers never got to see the surprising outcome. The sanctuary’s Eileen Keeling said: “There was indeed a happy ending, but for four of the colony’s residents rather than just two.”
She said Lola and Pine liked each other well enough, but it was sad Gilbert – whose original partner Ruby had passed away a year earlier – who stole Lola’s heart. The pair are now inseparable and Pine has also found love, with the sole remaining unattached female Yoni. “They are the youngest of our birds, and until recently were more concerned with having fun than with romance,” added Mrs Keeling. “Just lately though our animal care team have noticed the pair indulging in more and more canoodling and mutual preening.”
They live with another pair of long-term penguin partners, Ivy and Piran. “Seeing their relationship blossom has been a really heart-warming experience,” added Mrs Keeling. “Now they are a proper pair it has made our Christmas already, and guaranteed a happy and affectionate festive season for all six of our birds.”