These aren’t Japanese river otters; they’re sad otters telling each other they’ll never go extinct.

When you truly love somebody that’s gone missing, you never admit that she’s gone, even if you’ve seen neither hide nor hair of her for 33 years. So now we know how the Japanese government feels about the Japanese river otter. Because the Ministry of the Environment just declared the river otter, last spotted in 1979, extinct.

You know who still loves and believes in the Japanese river otter, though? Yoshihiko Machida, a professor emeritus at Kochi University. This guy has been looking not just for otters but for otter droppings. As Scientific American reports, “He said he still has hope that the otter exists and plans to continue searching it.”

Extinction cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while. But, you know, maybe a really long while.

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