We could all use a hug like this in 2020.
A touching image of two widowed penguins embracing as they gaze at the night sky in Australia won a coveted nature photography award — and plenty of praise from fans starved of affection amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“During times like this, the truly lucky ones are those that can be with the person/people they love most,” German photographer Tobias Baumgaertner told the UK Sun. “[The peguins] met regularly comforting each other and standing for hours watching the dancing lights of the nearby city.”
Baumgaertner — who won Oceanographic magazine’s Ocean Photograph Award — said he captured the animal world tenderness roughly a year ago after staking out a colony of 1,400 fairy penguins in Melbourne for three days, the outlet reported.
He learned from local wildlife volunteer that one of the penguins — an elderly female — had recently lost her mate, and so had a younger male penguin she’d befriended.
“These two fairy penguins poised upon a rock overlooking the Melbourne skyline were standing there for hours, flipper in flipper, watching the sparkling lights of the skyline and ocean,” he said.
But there were challenges to snapping a shot of them at night, he said.
“Between not being able or allowed to use any lights and the tiny penguins continuously moving, rubbing their flippers on each other’s backs and cleaning one another, it was really hard to get a shot but i got lucky during one beautiful moment,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
Fans flocked social media to gush about the bond between birds. “This is definitely one of the greatest pictures of all time!” one user swooned.
Another added: “Has to be the most romantic thing I have ever seen.”