Yes, penguins give gifts to other penguins. Male penguins can be observed looking for and finding the smoothest rock to give to a female. 

Gift giving is an age-old and innate act that humans partake in in order to show their love to other humans. But did you know that animals give gifts to show love too?

A ‘love language’ refers to a method for an individual to show love to another individual. There are five commonly recognized love languages. These are words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and, last but not least, gift giving. Humans give gifts to congratulate and comfort their peers, celebrate special occasions and show gratitude to those who have helped them. Gifts are an amazing, globally recognized way of showing someone that you care – a method of showing your emotions.

give gifts

Animals give gifts for a similar purpose. Penguins, for example, give gifts as a courtship behavior. Essentially, this means that they give gifts to other penguins in order to win them over and flirt with them!

Male penguins will go out and locate the best looking and smoothest pebble they can find. Then, there’s the ultimate test; they present these perfectly smooth pebbles to their desired female and await her verdict. If she doesn’t like it, they keep looking. If she does, they add it to their nest before piling on more and more rocks in order to create the perfect nesting environment.

Now of course penguins may not always be able to find the perfect rock for the job on their own. That’s when they get nefarious. They will steal rocks from other penguins that they deem to be the most perfect rocks on earth. How devious!

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Do other animals give gifts?

A famous example of gift giving in the animal kingdom is cats! Cats like to hunt small rodents and birds and bring them home to present to their owners. Any Cat owners will tell you; this is not a pleasant gift exchange. I mean imagine receiving a dead hedgehog in your office secret santa!

The reason cats do this is actually quite remarkable (and not to mention adorable). This comes from an evolutionary behavior in which cats bring home their hunting hauls to show their kittens how it’s done. Meaning, they do this to show their owners how to hunt for food! So next time you get angry at your feline friend for bringing home yet another disemboweled mouse, remember that they’re only trying to help!

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Bonobos are an absolutely gorgeous species of primate that are always a joy to learn about. In the case of giving gifts, they like to give food to other bonobos that are outside of their own social group. Giving gifts to strangers allows them to expand their social circles and experience fresh and exciting social interactions; two things that bonobos love!

As you can see, gift giving is a beautiful and natural way for animals to show love to one another; whether you’re an accountant buying flowers for your wife or a penguin giving your crush a stolen pebble from your neighbor!

Extra information

Animal-Club provides animal parties or animal handling workshops. You will be able to see, learn and interact with many wonderful animals with the help of our presenters. Our mobile zoo has many friendly animals such as rabbits, tarantulas, geckos, vinegaroons and more, perfect for an animal party. We can also come over to your school for an animal school visit or arrange for an animal workshop with us where the children can learn about looking after animals and animal behaviour, and have fun too.