Animals That Mate for Life Will Make You Believe in Love
Choosing to have a single partner forever seems like a human thing to do. But it turns out we don't have a monopoly on being hopeless romantics.
While most species don't practice monogamy or even have what could be called "relationships," some animals do choose to mate for life. They may not exchange vows or sign official papers, but they build families and homes meant to last until they die. As with humans, these partnerships can be quite complex and complicated.
But they still make us believe in true love.
If one species should symbolize love, it would be the albatross. These birds don't choose their partner randomly. Instead, they often take years to find their better half through social dancing events.
Once they've decided on the one, they stick together for life. And we mean life. In fact, studies have shown that 100 percent of albatross couples last until one of them dies. And this is despite them spending most of their time at sea and away from each other.
Some naysayers point to the fact that they do mate with other albatrosses. But cheating isn't a concept these birds can understand, so we'll stick with the fact that they go back to their partners year after year after year. Cute.
Alpha wolves pick an alpha female and breed. Usually, a pack is made up of parents and their children, much like a typical human family.
While males will occasionally mate with other females outside of the pack, the group tends to stick together since it increases their chance of survival.
Males have been seen to protect the females from attackers, but females will also cover the male's throat to protect him from a mortal wound. All in all, wolf pairs are power couples to admire.
Many primates are characterized by their promiscuity, but gibbons usually form partnerships that last years, if not a lifetime.
Watching gibbon couples is heartwarming, since they cement their relationship by coming up with a song that is unique to them. They then spend a lot of time grooming each other, cuddling and raising their young.
But, of course, relationships are complicated and "cheating" happens. What's interesting about this is that these primates do exhibit jealousy and possessiveness. When a male has strayed away from the shared territory for too long, the female will sing their song to get him to come back.
Contrary to popular belief, not all penguins promise to stick together 'til the end. One species that does practice monogamy is the macaroni penguin. Not only will they return to the same mate each season, but they are extremely happy when they are reunited.
Monogamy makes sense for this species since it increases the chances of survival for the young in harsh environments. Couples take turns caring for the eggs. Then, once they are hatched, the female hunts while the male protects the babies.
It would be hard for a single parent to perform both tasks.
Seahorses are incredibly cute but also incredibly vulnerable. Finding a mate means risking being out of camouflage long enough for a predator to see you. Once they've got a partner, it's simply safer to stick together rather than going off to explore other possibilities.
Sadly, it has been found that females will leave males who are sick, even when they are carrying their young. Not surprisingly, when this happens, the female will look for another partner right away.
It's hard work being a beaver. There are dams to be built, predators to escape and food to be found. And all of this is easier with someone by your side sharing half of the work.
Scientists believe this drives beavers to choose life partners, though the behavior is more common in Eurasian beavers, with American beavers showing more proclivity for abandoning their home life. Those who stick together share tasks equally, including child-rearing, maintaining dams, and being on the lookout.
Couples are adorable. If you've never seen beavers holding hands while they sleep, look it up and thank us later.
Bald eagles are solitary animals that seem to enjoy their freedom. But they also know that finding love is hard, so they stick to their first mate forever.
Each mating season, the pair will meet back up and breed. They'll stay together long enough for the chicks to reach independence before splitting up for the rest of the year.
Interestingly, they don't seem to mate with any other partner unless one dies or is lost.
Monogamy isn't common in lizards, but no Australian animal is normal. And shingleback lizards simply had to be different from their brethren.
Like bald eagles, these lizards like to live alone and in peace, but they will come back to the same partner every year. This is most likely because the harsh Australian environment makes mating rituals impractical and potentially life-threatening. So once they've secured a deal, they know better than to look for romance elsewhere.
Shinglebacks can stick together for over a decade and sometimes stay with a partner for days if they die. We're not crying. It's just a bit of sand that got in our eyes.
People usually don't like vultures because they're ugly and perform a necessary but unsavory task. These birds are surprisingly romantic and faithful. They've even been observed to attack and ostracize individuals who cheat.
Unlike other birds on this list, vultures don't separate and reunite each year. Instead, they stay together throughout the year and share parental responsibilities equally.
Swans are a universal symbol of love. There is just something absurdly romantic in seeing a pair head to head, forming the perfect shape of a heart. These majestic birds can stay together for years or even life.
"Breakups" between swans do happen, and they then try to search for another partner, which sounds heartbreakingly familiar.