Romance in the animal kingdom

Gentoo penguins.
Gentoo penguins.PHOTOS: JOSE CORTES III, YOJI OKATA, L.A. KELLEY, SINGAPORE ZOO
Bowerbirds
BowerbirdsPHOTOS: JOSE CORTES III, YOJI OKATA, L.A. KELLEY, GRAEME GUY

Romance is certainly not dead in the animal kingdom, and dolphins aren't the only animals going all out to entice mating partners with a labour of love. Here are some examples of animals which use gifts to impress their ladies.

Gentoo penguins 

Male Gentoo penguins, commonly found on the Antarctic peninsula, present love tokens in the form of pebbles to females. The penguins strive to find the smoothest-looking pebbles and have often been caught stealing pebbles from their male rivals to win the hearts of their female counterparts.

Puffer fish

Puffer fish are another group in the water that believe in romance. The male fish, small as they are, swim through the ocean bed to create large and intricate "crop circles", which are intricate geometric sand sculptures the males make by laboriously using their fins to dig furrows. The circles are a way to attract female puffer fish to mate. Here (below), a male is seen gently biting on the left cheek of a female while the couple are spawning.

Bowerbirds 

Bowerbird males are known to pull out all the stops to attract females. The birds, native to New Guinea and Australia, create colour-coordinated nest-like structures to attract females from afar. They build an entire structure using items ranging from bones (below) and flowers to pens and clothes pegs, always in a specific colour scheme. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2017, with the headline 'Romance in the animal kingdom'. Print Edition | Subscribe