A frog by the name of Romeo, thought to be the last of his species, is no longer fortune's fool. Defying the stars, this lonely amphibious bachelor has at last found his Juliet.
Known as the world's loneliest frog, for ten years Romeo has burned, he has pined, but he has not perished.
His story is an inspiration for singletons of every breed. After years of isolation in captivity, chirping his love songs in vain, Romeo has shown a level of patience that would impress even the most virtuous among us.
At long last, his perseverance has paid off. Hiding deep within a remote Bolivian cloud forest, scientists have found and captured no less than five Sehuencas water frogs (Telmatobius yuracare) - three males and two females.
This may not be enough to maintain a viable population in the wild, but that hasn't stopped conservationists from trying.
Researchers at Cochabamba, Bolivia's Natural History Museum (Museo de Historia Natural Alcide dOrbigny) are going to try to breed these endangered amphibians in captivity before taking them back to the wild.
The most energetic of the bunch is destined for Romeo's aquarium. Her name, of course, is Juliet.
"She is very strong, and swims very fast. She looks great and is healthy," says Teresa Camacho Badani, chief of herpetology at the museum and the scientist who discovered the frogs.
"Opposites attract - while Romeo is very shy, Juliet is not at all! So we think she will make an excellent match for Romeo."
Drum roll.....here she is! My sweet Juliet. #exceededexpectations #luckyfrog #Match4Romeo #Julietthefrog pic.twitter.com/sStJ70x7d4— Romeo the World's Loneliest Frog (no longer!) (@romeothefrog) January 15, 2019
Some of us are born lonely, some achieve loneliness, and some have loneliness thrust upon us. Romeo, like many other frogs around the world, falls into the latter category.
Scientists have warned that Earth's sixth mass extinction event is already underway, and this biological annihilation is most apparent among amphibians.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are nearly as many species of amphibians categorised as "threatened" as those of threatened birds and mammals put together.
All told, an estimated 40 percent of amphibian species are in danger of extinction, and nearly one-third are already classified as threatened or threatened with extinction.
In Bolivia alone, 22 percent of amphibian species are threatened by habitat loss, pollution and climate change. One of the biggest threats to their survival is a contagious disease, called chytridiomycosis - a fungal infection, possibly exacerbated by climate change, that is wiping out amphibians around the world, including Sehuencas.
But Romeo isn't one to sit at home and wallow in the sad hours and the tragedy of his species. Taking control of a lonely life, this bold bachelor took a leap last year that many of us cannot imagine doing: he created an honest dating profile.
"I'm a Sehuencas (pronounced "say-when-cuss") Water Frog and, not to start this off super heavy or anything, but I'm literally the last of my species," his Match.com profile reads.
"I know - intense stuff. But that's why I'm on here - in hopes of finding my perfect match so we can save our own kind (no pressure ;))."
The campaign was launched on Valentine's Day with the aim of raising US$15,000 to find other Sehuencas out there in the wild, and, in the end, the profile was worth all the effort and the honesty.
Nevertheless, before these two star-crossed lovers can be officially united, Juliet will have to be screened and treated for the chytridiomycosis infection.
"We do not want Romeo to get sick on his first date!" says Badani.
"When the treatment is finished, we can finally give Romeo what we hope is a romantic encounter with his Juliet."
After all, love alters not with the brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.