Grape-kun was a penguin living at the Tobu Zoo in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, who gained a large following for his perceived interest in a cardboard cutout of the anthropomorphic penguin character Hululu from the popular anime series Kemono Friends after it was placed in his enclosure in late April 2017.
The official Twitter account for Tobu Zoo has revealed that Grape-kun has recently passed away at the age of 20.
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) October 13, 2017
The above tweet translated:
Grape-kun the Humboldt penguin passed away yesterday. Thank you very much for your support and thank you Hululu for watching him until his last moments. Please rest in peace in Heaven… Grape-kun…
Tobu Zoo collaborated with Kemono Friends for a two-month event to help increase zoo attendance which featured each animal exhibit having their own character cutouts and windows decals based on their respective Kemono Friends character.
Back in May, Ikuko Chikuta, the voice of Hululu Kemono Friends, came to Tobu zoo in Saitama as part of a hands-on educational event about Humbolt penguins. It was the first edition of “Yamada-oniichan’s Penguin Talk.”
Grape-kun started to display signs of love towards a cutout of Hululu which took the internet by a storm during the Kemono Friends event. The zoo keepers and visitors noticed that Grape-kun would ignore his flock to spend time with Hululu for hours on end. Hululu’s voice actress was also worried about Grape-kun’s mental health once the collaboration was over.
After the collabration ended, the zoo keepers decided to keep the Hululu cutout indefinitely as a way to help Grape-kun through his troubles. Yahoo Japan also published an article about Grape-kun, which contained a statement from zoo staff claiming he was placed behind the fence to prevent him from falling into the pool due to his old age.
This legendary penguin also received quite a handful of fan-art:
Rest in peace… Grape-kun.