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11 Monogamous Animals That Mate For Life (It’s Not Just Penguins)

Updated: Jul. 22, 2021

We can all learn a lesson in relationships from these loving animal couples.

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Monogamous animals penguins mate for life
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Animals that mate for life: macaroni penguin

Do penguins mate for life? Well, some, but not all. However, more than 90 percent of birds are monogamous animals, though none of them show affection quite like macaroni penguins. These adorable couples dance when they see each other, called “an ecstatic display.” They puff up their chests, swing their heads side to side, and make a gurgling-like sound. Once their baby is born, the father looks after the chick while the mother hunts for food.

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Monogamous animals cranes mate for life
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Animals that mate for life: sandhill crane

Humans have love songs and poetry, but sandhill cranes have “unison calling” to profess their bond to the world. Female cranes squawk twice and the male cranes respond with a single squawk. We doubt it would have the same effect on humans.

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Monogamous animals seahorses mate for life
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Animals that mate for life: seahorse

Long before male seahorses carry their babies in the pouch on their stomachs, they flirt with potential mates by intertwining tails and dancing around each other. Female seahorses, on the other hand, can get jealous and compete with each other for a certain male. Seahorses generally have a fairly short lifespan, so monogamy might not be quite the same commitment as it is for these aquatic animals that life forever.

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Monogamous animals wolves mate for life
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Animals that mate for life: gray wolf

An alpha male and his female partner are basically a power couple; the social hierarchy of all other gray wolves in the pack depends on them. The couple breeds once a year. Don’t miss these facts about animals you might have wrong.

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Monogamous animals owls mate for life

Animals that mate for life: barn owl

Barn owls also have their own language of love. Male owls “flirt” with potential mates by giving them dead mice and screeching, and females who are interested respond by croaking.

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Monogamous animals skink mate for life

Animals that mate for life: shingleback skink

The shingleback skink is a type of lizard native to Australia that returns to the same partner each mating season. The males woo the females by caressing and licking them, but the romantic chase pays off; their partnership could last more than 20 years. Couples even walk close together, with the male following slightly behind his mate. Do you know the distinctions between these ten animals?

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Monogamous animals eagles mate for life

Animals that mate for life: bald eagle

Just like the wolves, eagles return to their same partners each mating season. The male eagles also help keep the eggs warm and feed the little ones after they’re born. Don’t miss these adorable photos of baby wild animals.

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Monogamous animals gibbons mate for life

Animals that mate for life: gibbon

These small apes have relationships that can mirror those of humans, in that couples do cheat, breakup, and even “remarry.” Relationships aren’t easy, even for these monogamous animals. For the primate couples that do stay together, they groom each other and equally help raise their children.

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Monogamous animals black vultures mate for life
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Animals that mate for life: black vulture

Vultures have a rather grim reputation, but at least they can be creepy with a loving mate. During courtship, male vultures circle the females with extended necks, and then chase and dive toward them. Couples stay together all year round, and once eggs join their family, they take turns incubating them for 24-hour shifts. You can add these creepy looking birds to the list of animals that aren’t as dangerous as you think.

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Monogamous animals beavers mate for life
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Animals that mate for life: beavers

Not much is known about how beavers find their mates, but once they do, they stick with that partner for life. A genetic study by Charles University in Prague even found that beavers stay faithful to their mates. Granted, this only applies to European beavers. North American beavers do partner up, but they also, as we humans would say, “see other people.”

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Monogamous animals swans mate for life

Animals that mate for life: swans

There’s a reason why these swans have become a symbol of love. When these monogamous animals court, they curve their necks toward each other in a heart shape, lift their wings, and bow. However, the grunting and hissing noises they make in the process are less romantic. But that doesn’t stop them from spending the rest of their lives together. You’ll also see swans on the list of innocent-looking animals that are actually incredibly dangerous.