When Dottie the penguin suddenly fell critically ill, her keepers feared the worst.
The endangered African Penguin was unable to stand, found it hard to breathe and became extremely weak.
Alarmed medics rushed her to intensive care, where they discovered she was suffering from pneumonia and a painful mass in her chest.
The bird, who lives at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, US, was given antibiotics to help her recovery – but workers feared she would not pull through.
Desperate for anything which could help her back to health, they called on her lovesick soulmate to lend them a hand.
Dottie and partner Stanley were usually inseparable, and vets thought that bringing him to her side would give her a boost.
Stanley was first brought in for an hour a day when she was most poorly, but was gradually able to spend more time with Dottie.
Very soon he was visiting throughout the day to encourage her to eat.
The National Aviary’s director of veterinary medicine, Dr Pilar Fish, told KDKA: “At first, Stan came for one-hour visits in the ICU each day, which was all Dottie could manage in her weakened state.
“As Dottie regained her strength, the visits became longer and longer, and eventually Stan moved in to the ICU.
“Stan worked in tandem with the team who visited throughout the day to encourage Dottie to eat.”
Dr Fish said Stan would sit with Dottie as penguin experts fed her – and keepers believe the companionship helped her make a full recovery.
He said: “When Stan ate, Dottie would take a bite.”
And incredibly, the duo have now returned to their colony, where they were welcomed by their penguin pals months after Dottie first fell ill.
In a statement Dr Fish said: “Dottie’s recovery is a miracle that largely happened behind the scenes, and this happy moment, watching her dive into the water at Penguin Point, is the result of prioritizing both her physical health and emotional wellbeing.
“From our incredible veterinary team, to our penguin experts bringing Stanley to be at Dottie’s side, to the members of our extended Aviary family who donated to help ensure Dottie received the highest possible level of care, Dottie’s recovery was possible through many acts of caring and generosity at each stage.”