8 Animals That Mate For Life

By Bryan Nelson, Mother Nature Network

Humans in many cultures like to think of themselves as a faithful species, but when it comes to true fidelity, many other animals offer better examples of how to keep a relationship together. Although monogamy and lifelong pair bonds are generally rare in the animal kingdom, here’s our list of 11 animals that pull it off.

Gibbons are the nearest relatives to humans that mate for life. They form extremely strong pair bonds and exhibit low sexual dimorphism, which means that males and females of the species are of roughly equal size, a testament to the fact that both sexes are on relatively equal footing in their relationships.

Swans form monogamous pair bonds that last for many years, and in some cases these can last for life. Their loyalty to their mates is so storied that the image of two swans swimming with their necks entwined in the shape of a heart has become a nearly universal symbol of true love.

Black vultures
Good looks are not a prerequisite to a faithful relationship. In fact, black vulture society makes sure of that. They have been known to attack other vultures that have been caught philandering!

Often portrayed as tricksters and con artists in popular folklore, wolves have a family life that is actually more loyal and pious than most human relationships. Normally, packs consist of a male, a female and their offspring, essentially making wolf packs akin to a nuclear family.

An albatross may fly great distances over the oceans, but despite its extensive travels, this bird will always return to the same place and the same partner when it’s time to breed. Pair bonds between males and females form over several years and will last for a lifetime, cemented through the use of goofy but affectionate ritual dances.

Turtle doves
There’s a reason that turtle doves come in pairs of two in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. These emblems of love and faithfulness have even inspired poetry in Shakespeare, being the subject of his poem The Pheonix and the Turtle.

Schistosoma mansoni worms
They may not offer the conventional image of love, but these parasitic worms are usually far more faithful than the humans they inhabit. As unromantic as it sounds, they cause the disease schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever. When they reproduce sexually within the human body, they form loyal monogamous pair bonds that typically last the entire cycle.

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

Bald eagles
They are the national emblem of the United States, and when it comes to maintaining relationships these birds soar much higher than the country they symbolize. Bald eagles typically mate for life, except in the event of their partner’s death or impotency a number far lower than America’s divorce rate, which now exceeds 50 percent.

Want to see more animal love? Check out our slideshow of cute, cuddling creatures.

For more animals that mate for life, click here to find the original article found on MNN.com.

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Roger M.
Past Member 2 years ago


Claire M.
Claire M.3 years ago

Interesting. Us humans could learn a thing or two from these faithful creatures!

Loo Samantha
Loo sam3 years ago


Velmapearl Hawkins
Velma Hawkins3 years ago

too bad people are not so evolved

Ric U.
Ric Upton3 years ago

Biologists have long understood that monogamy is rare in mammals. Of about 4,000 mammalian species, only a handful have ever been called monogamous. The tiny list includes beavers and a couple of other rodents, otters, bats, certain foxes, a few hoofed mammals, and some primates -- notably gibbons and the tamarins and marmosets of the tropical New World.

The idea of mating for life is antiquated and based on fairy tale religious and overly conservative human centered values.

Chelle A.
Michelle A.3 years ago

Maybe humans will be able to learn more about wolves and other animals, if man doesn't continue to kill them off. We need to treat our animals (yes, even those in the wild) much better.

colleen p.
colleen p.4 years ago

no, not really. some wolves aren't as monogomas as you think. sometimes they go away and get a new mate. they radio collared and studied one male and saw he had a few mates from differnt packs. he is stuffed in in a museum or education center or something.

Berty Jardine
Berty Jardine4 years ago

All creatures,great and small :-)

Caitlin Fowler
Caitlin F.4 years ago

Interesting, its sad to think that so many animals can mate for life, and people can't...

Caitlin Fowler
Caitlin F.4 years ago

Interesting, its sad to think that so many animals can mate for life, and people can't...