It's true when they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and during a year of little social interaction, it's never been more true. Which is why these photos of cuddling penguins is really doing us in.
German photographer Tobias Baumgaertner captured some beautiful photos of a pair of fairy penguins (the smallest, and therefore cutest, penguin species) spending time together looking out at the skyline at St Kilda Pier in Melbourne, where their colony lives.
According to volunteers of Earthcare St Kilda, a nonprofit that oversees the colony, the two penguins, one old and one young, had recently lost their partners; among an entire little village of penguins, they've apparently consistently turned to each other for company. Could it be that these birds recognize mutual sorrow in each other and want to provide a source of comfort?
The photos were originally taken in 2019, after Baumgaertner spent three nights with the penguin colony, observing and snapping pictures until he finally got lucky. Baumgaertner reposted the photo back in March, when the world first began shutting down in response to the ongoing pandemic, using these little penguins as a universal symbol of hope and comfort.
"The way that these two lovebirds were caring for one another stood out from the entire colony. While all the other penguins were sleeping or running around, those two seemed to just stand there and enjoy every second they had together, holding each other in their flippers and talking about penguin stuff," he wrote in a separate caption. "Pain has brought them together...I guess sometimes you find love when you least expect it."
The photos have begun making rounds again now that Baumgaertner has taken home a prize in Oceanographic Magazine's Ocean Photography Awards, winning the Community Choice Award for this frozen moment in time. The photo series has gone viral on Twitter, reigniting the love for the penguins nearly two years later.
Oh, and the video is even better:
May we all find friendship like these penguins have.