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Do Animals Fall in Love ?

Do animals fall in love? Do animals know what love is all about ? Do they experience the passion and devotion to the other half? Humans believe they know what love is and human’s life revolves around it. However, many animal behaviourists are cautious about saying animals experiencing love. These interesting stories below may suggest they do know about love, but read on and decide for yourself.


Does animal has the right to choose the partner?

Many species of the animals will not breed with just any other animal of their species. According to the Zookeeper in Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Timmy, a gorilla refused to mate with two female gorillas introduced to him. However, when Timmy met Kate, another female gorilla, they accepted each other immediately. However, after some time, despite a few attempts, the couple was not producing any offspring. It was then assume that Kate was infertile due her old age. The zookeeper decided to send Timmy to another zoo where he might have a chance to breed with other female gorilla, and increased the numbers of this endangered species. An activist group filed a court case over this intense controversy in 1991, seeking to block Timmy’s impending transfer to Bronx zoo in New York city. The plaintiffs contended that separating Timmy from his infertile female companion would be detrimental to his health. Defending the zoo’s decision to separate the animals, the zoo director said, “It sickens me when people start to put human emotions in animals and it demeans the animal. We can’t think of them as some kind of magnificent human being; they are animals. When people start staying animals have emotions, they cross the bridge of reality.” Despite of years working with animals, witnessing the joy in the gorilla couples, his vehement statement showed how much they fear the subject of anthropomorphism - any attribution of human characteristics (assumed to belong only to humans) to animals.

About Timmy, the Gorilla from Western Africa

Timmy was born in Cameroon, Western Africa in 1959 and was brought to Memphis Zoo in 1960. He lived there until he was transferred to Cleveland in 1966. In the wild of Western lowland where Timmy came from, these gorillas are critically endangered. Gorillas are vulnerable to illegal capture, habitat loss due to deforestation and outbreak of diseases such as the Ebola virus. Hence, Timmy’s wild born status made his gene extremely valuable to zoos. Since arrival in America, he has never produced any offspring and the Zoo thought that moving him to a more natural social setting with several breeding-age female gorillas might improve his chances.

A federal court judge approved the transfer of Timmy and he left Cleveland for the Bronx on November 1, 1991.

Any fears about Timmy's health disappeared when he began to produce offspring in his new home. In between year 1992 and 2004, Timmy fathered 13 offspring - eight male and five female gorillas - at the Bronx Zoo.

He suffered chronic medical problems in recent years including heart disease (cardiomyopathy), heart arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation) and osteoarthritis, according to Louisville Zoo veterinarian Dr. Roy Burns, and was euthanized on Aug, 2nd , 2011 morning at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky when his health deteriorated.

Devoted Couple

Nevertheless, if we observe further, there is evidence of love and devotion of animal couples. Field biologists have told us that geese, swans and mandarin ducks are all symbols of devotion and marital fidelity.


Goose is very loyal to its partner. They are well known for the long-term pair bonds they form. As much as one likes to attribute to their undying love, such mating system is believed to maximize the animal breeding opportunities. In the case of monogamy, such relatively exclusive relationship appears to be the optimal arrangement for both sexes. What is interesting is, despite the fact that socially monogamous animals create strong domestic partnerships with one mate, they are not always faithful to each other. Studies have shown that, just like human relationships, a large percentage of these "monogamous” birds occasionally engage in extra-pair mating. Such adulterous behavior could also incite his partner to either desert him or avenge herself by having a fling of her own -- thus reducing his paternal contribution to the upcoming offspring. [source: Gill].

Swans' kiss bills.

Swans' kiss bills.


Swans often mate for life. They will normally engage a new mate when their partner gets lost or dies. A swam begins its courtship when it is 2 to 3 years old. It shows off to another swan by dipping and turning his or her heads. Swans may also kiss their bills, and when they do so, their necks form a heart shape.

Mandarin Ducks

Mandarin Ducks

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Mandarin Ducks

Mandarin ducks do not mate for life, but over a few mating seasons. Male duck is sometimes promiscuous while the female is incubating, and engages a second temporary partner during this time.

During the breeding period, which is winter season, the male body feathers will turn very beautiful with strong colour contrast. When it is off-breeding season, the male will shed the colourful feathers and resemble the female.

Sarus Cranes

Sarus Cranes

Sarus Cranes

In India, Sarus Crane is considered a symbol of marital fidelity, believed to mate for life and pine the loss of their mates to the point of starving to death. In parts of Gujarat, Sarus Cranes is regarded as a symbol of marital virtue. It is a custom to take a newly wed couple to see a pair of Sarus Cranes.


The idea of love among animals has been generally rejected by Science. However, what we cannot deny is the fact that evidences do exist, that show some animals do experience joy, love and heartbreak in their relationship with their partners, just like human beings.

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A Cat's Reaction to Lost Partner


The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are owned by Ingenira who hereby asserts her copyright on the material. Permission must be granted by the author in writing prior to copy or republish this article in print or online. However, please feel free to copy the first paragraph with a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Ingenira 2011


Ingenira (author) on July 22, 2012:

thanks, sozocoffee and KenWu.

KenWu from Malaysia on July 21, 2012:

This is a very SWEET hub!

Pamela Lee from Washington State on April 10, 2012:

This is a very nice Hub...I am sure animals fall in love...some for life... :)

Ingenira (author) on March 15, 2012:

Ciel Clark, thank you for your story, I hope you have more favourable outcome in the end to share... LOL. :)

Ciel Clark from USA on March 14, 2012:

I think we all like the idea that animals can fall in love. Great stories. Now, I wish my two cats would get along.. (She loves him, he is not interested...)

Thanks for the words!

bruzzbuzz from Texas , USA on December 18, 2011:

Fantastic hub. I do believe that animals can feel love and devotion. In fact, they are likely to be more devoted than we humans can be. Great great hub.

jtrader on October 20, 2011:

The Sarus cranes take it to the extreme.

Interesting read.

Ingenira (author) on October 02, 2011:

appreciate your sincere comment, Aeron Wright. thank you !

Aeron Wright on October 02, 2011:

I totally agree with you on what you wrote about the animals' love, we should respect the love among the animals. Mercurynewsonline and your sharing are really touching, thanks for the sharing it here.

Ingenira (author) on September 30, 2011:

That's a really touching story, MercuryNewsOnline. Thanks so much for sharing.

Just yesterday in the facebook, a friend shared a photo of a dog who is pushing his/her mate to the road side, even though his/her mate has passed away, after being hit by a car.

Now, we are talking about love between two animals of the same species. A few years ago, there was a dog and a cat from different houses in my neighbourhood. They often spent time together. One day, the dog passed away. The cat has been seen waiting outside the dog house since then.

MercuryNewsOnline from Toronto, Canada on September 30, 2011:

While driving to a company assignment to Nova Scotia,a pair of robins flew right in front of my car. One of the bird's wings hit my radio antenna and fell by the wayside. Alone on a desolate road and feeling guilty, I parked my car to see if I can do something. I stopped short from approaching and watched the wounded bird sitting on the ground as the mate stood guard waiting for the other bird to recover. It was more than a decade now but your article vividly reminds me of how other species show their love and support for their partners in times when needed most. Great hub.

Ingenira (author) on September 29, 2011:

thanks for sharing, kerlynb. That is an interesting story to know.

Ingenira (author) on September 29, 2011:

thanks, ArgentinaDanila. Appreciate your comment.

kerlynb from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ on September 29, 2011:

"Nevertheless, if we observe further, there is evidence of love and devotion of animal couples." - Have to agree. Just recently an article hit the Asian press about a male tiger who was fatally attacked by a female tiger, who was overly jealous. Apparently, the male tiger had eyes only for another female tiger and would not want to accept the advances of his aggressive lover. Veterinarians concluded that unrequited love forced the rejected female tiger to attack, and eventually kill, the male tiger :(

ArgentinaDanila on September 29, 2011:

I liked what you had to say about animals.

Thank you. Everything you wrote here is true.

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