Couple Goals: What Animals Can Teach Us About Staying Together

This Valentine’s Day, pour a glass of wine, cue up the Michael Bublé, and get ready to read about animal relationships that will make you believe in love. The committed animal couples listed below tend to stick together for life.

Here are some amorous animal couples

Prairie Voles

There’s a reason why one relationship guide is called Make Love Like a Prairie Vole. These tiny rodents are champion snugglers. Part of their secret to matrimonial bliss is rooted in oxytocin (the “love hormone”), but prairie vole partners also cooperate on things like building their nests, raising their babies, and more throughout their lives.

Prairie Voles and other animals who mate for life©Arco Images GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

Geese

Geese take “in sickness and in health” seriously. If a goose is sick or injured, his or her partner will often refuse to leave, even if winter is approaching and the others in the group are flying south. When a goose’s mate dies, that bird will mourn in seclusion—and some geese spend the rest of their lives as widows or widowers, refusing to mate again. This enduring bond was evident in a series of photos that went viral of a male goose in China telling his mate goodbye as she was being loaded onto a motorcycle to be taken to slaughter.

© iStock.com/rmarnold

Gray Wolves

It takes a village to raise a child, which is why these awe-inspiring animals don’t just stay with their partners for life—they stay with the whole family. Gray wolf packs keep close together, and everyone pitches in.

Gray Wolf Couple Relaxing

Sandhill Cranes

Many bird species mate for life, including sandhill cranes. You might get a goodnight heart-kiss emoji from your S.O., but these pairs profess their love for each other to the world by making sweet calls in unison.

Two Sandhill Cranes in the Marsh

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Crows

Crows look for that one special bird they can stay with for life, and some lucky crow couples spend decades together. Babies live with their parents for about seven years, and older birds in the family help the parents with childcare. Crow families also work together to build their nests, but smart males know to let the females have the final say.

crows and other animal Couples who mate for life

Beavers

After about two years of living with mom and dad, eager beavers start looking to move out and find their own spouses (although they remain tight with their folks). Beaver couples enjoy up to 20 years of marital bliss. Dam!

Beaver Couple on the ShoreiStock.com/Jillian Cooper

Laysan Albatrosses

Do you two like to spend your anniversary going dancing? So do laysan albatrosses. These faithful pairs solidify their bond annually by dancing together.

Two Laysan Albatrosses Performing Annual Couples Dance

Marmosets

Gentle and cooperative, many species of marmosets live with their partners in tight-knit family groups that span three generations. Parents get some time for themselves by enlisting the older offspring to help with their siblings.

Two Marmosets SnugglingiStock.com/caronwatson

California Condors

During California condor courtships, the birds shop for houses, flying around together searching for the perfect spot to build their love nest. But the females get the final say in all home-acquiring decisions.

Two California Condors Sitting on a Ledge Looking at One Another

Coyotes

Coyotes are among the most faithful of all species. National Geographic reported on the results of a coyote-fidelity study, concluding that “these canine cousins are loyal to their mates and never stray. Not ever. . . . These canids are remaining faithful both in good times and bad.”

coyotes and other animals who mate for life© iStock.com/Stevanovic

Macaroni Penguins (also called “Royal Penguins”)

Many species of penguins mate for life. Do you get a hug after you and your beloved have been apart for a while? Macaroni penguins have you beat: These lovebirds dance when they see each other in an aptly named “ecstatic display.”

Two Macaroni Penguins Embracing

Mute Swans

We humans might do well to model our relationships after mute swans. Their “divorce” rate stays low, at around 12%.

Two Mute Swans Swimming and Touching Heads

Scarlet Macaws

When you brush the hair out of your sweetie’s face or pull a loose string off of his shirt, you’re acting like scarlet macaws. These often-photographed birds like to look their best, so spouses help preen each other.

Two Scarlet Macaws Preening Each OtheriStock.com/Amy Newton-McConnel

Gibbons

We all know that relationships can be challenging from time to time. Gibbons like to mate for life, but they have been known to cheat, break up, and remarry. Grooming each other and sharing childcare responsibilities help these couples make it work.

Gibbons and other animals who mate for lifeiStock.com/IJdema

Whooping Cranes

Whooping cranes really take a leap of faith. The tallest birds in North America also perform some of the most intricate dances for their partners, including jumping and bouncing.

Atlantic Puffins

Atlantic puffin dads help their gals incubate the couple’s eggs. But what we love most about them is that committed couples rub their beaks together in a display of affection.

puffins and other animals who mate for life© iStock.com/AndreAnita

Seahorses

Seahorse singles flirt with each other and intertwine their tails. Once they’ve found their lifelong mate, it’s the males who carry and give birth to the babies.

Two Seahorses With Tails Wrapped Around SeaweediStock.com/imegastocker

Black Vultures

Black vultures’ love language seems to be “quality time.” These pairs like to hang out with each other as much as possible year-round.

Two Black Vultures CuddlingiStock.com/Rejean Bedard

Shingleback Skinks

These lizards’ long-lasting relationships can span two decades. Males often caress the females, and couples like to walk close beside each other.

Shingleback Skink Couple Cuddlng on Rock

Bald Eagles

This symbol of the U.S. is also a symbol for lasting love, as pairs mate for life unless one of them dies. During courtship, bald eagles lock talons, somewhat like holding hands, before flipping and spinning through the sky together.

Bald Eagles and other animals who mate for life

Barn Owls

Barn owls seem to have two love languages: “words of affirmation” and “receiving gifts.” Males and females make special sounds to one another to indicate their interest, and male suitors bring the females presents.

Barn Owls and other animals who mate for life© iStock.com/John Carnemolla


Inspired by These Animals Who Mate for Life?

If you’re feeling inspired by these committed animal relationships, help keep loving couples and families together by taking actions for animals that can make the most difference right now:

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