8 Animals That Mate for Life

When it comes to fidelity, lovebirds could write the book. (Photo: Getty Images).

When it comes to bonding for life, we humans may think we have it all figured out, but it turns out our animal friends might be able to teach us a thing or two about fidelity. 

True monogamy is rare in the animal kingdom, but it does exist among certain species. It's unclear whether or not these animals feel "love" for their partners in the same way that humans do, but it is clear that for many species, forming a lifetime pair bond is as much about survival of the species as it is about having someone to help build your nest and keep your feathers clean.

No matter the reason for their monogamy, we humans can learn a lot from the dedication shown by several animal species to their mates.

Scroll through this list to meet eight of the wonderful animal pairs that mate for life.

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Swans - Symbols of True Love

Mute swans
Mute swans touching beaks. the quintessential animal pair. (Photo: Getty Images).

Two swans touching beaks—it's the universal symbol of true love in the animal kingdom. And as it turns out, it really does indicate true love—or at least that's what humans would call it. Swans form monogamous pair bonds that last for many years, and in some cases these bonds can last for life.

Romantic? Sure, but swan pairs are more a matter of survival than love. When you factor in the amount of time swans need to migrate, establish territories, incubate, and raise their young, it makes sense that they wouldn't want to waste any extra time attracting a new mate each season.

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Wolves - Loyal for Life

Arctic Wolves
Arctic wolves are loyal to their mates for life. (Photo: Getty Images).

These sly old dogs are not as independent as you might think. Lone wolf stereotypes aside, most wolf "families" consist of a male, a female, and their pups. Just like a human family.

Alpha males share dominance within the pack with their alpha female, except during mating season, when the alpha female is in charge.

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Albatross - Always Faithful

Bonded albatross pair caring for their chick. (Photo: Getty Images).

Many bird species mate for life, but albatross take things up a notch by learning advanced moves to keep the romance alive with their mate. From a young age, albatrosses learn how to woo their mates using an elaborate system of preening, pointing, rattling, bowing, and dancing. They may try these moves out with many partners, but once they pick "the one," they are faithful mates for life. 

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Gibbons - Maybe Faithful, Maybe Not

Pair of gibbons resting in a tree.
Pair of gibbons resting in a tree. (Photo: Getty Images).

Gibbons are our closest animal relatives that mate with their partners for life. Males and females are roughly the same size, making grooming and relaxing together a comfortable fit. New research shows that there may be some philandering going on within gibbons packs, but overall, pairs stay together for a lifetime.

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French Angelfish - Love Under the Sea

French Angelfish
A pair of French angelfish in the Caribbean (Photo: Getty Images).

French angelfish are very rarely—if ever—alone. They form close, monogamous pairs from a young age and then do everything with their mate for the rest of their lives. They live, travel and hunt in pairs and will even defend their ocean territory against neighboring pairs of fish.

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Turtle Doves - Always in Twos

Turtle Doves
Pair of turtle doves in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape Province, South Africa (Photo: Getty Images).

There is a good reason that turtle doves come in twos in the famous Christmas carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." These birds mate for life. Their faithfulness even inspired Shakespeare, who wrote about them in his poem, "The Phoenix and the Turtle."

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Prairie Voles - Romantic Rodents

Prairie Voles
Family of prairie voles in their nest. (Photo: galleryhip.com).

Most rodents are not monogamous by nature, but prairie voles are the exception to the rule. They form lifelong pair bonds with their partners and spend their lives nesting, grooming, mating with, and supporting their mates. In fact, they are often used as the model for faithful monogamous relationships in nature.

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Termites - A Family Affair

A termite pair enjoying a snack. (Photo: Getty Images).

When one thinks of faithful animal couples, one doesn't usually call to mind termites, but that's just what they are. Unlike ants, where the queen mates once with a male or several males before their death, termite queens mate with one termite "king" throughout their lives. Thus, entire termite colonies are really just a mom dad and thousands of their offspring. Awww...

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Savedge, Jenn. "8 Animals That Mate for Life." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/animals-that-mate-for-life-1140803. Savedge, Jenn. (2020, August 26). 8 Animals That Mate for Life. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/animals-that-mate-for-life-1140803 Savedge, Jenn. "8 Animals That Mate for Life." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/animals-that-mate-for-life-1140803 (accessed June 1, 2023).