Love is in the air, treats in store for zoo animals on V-Day

Keepers show their love with valentines for primates, marine mammals and cougars

Roses are nice, chocolates are too, but animals crave other treats at the Oregon Zoo. Keepers will spread the love Thursday, Feb. 14, delivering some nontraditional Valentine's Day gifts to the zoo's primates, marine mammals and cougars.

The holiday festivities kick off with wrapped gifts and Valentine decorations for some of the zoo's non-human primates. Orangutans Inji and Kutai will receive their presents at 10:30 a.m. and the zoo's chimpanzees get their gifts at 10:45 a.m.

At 11:15 a.m., the sleek swimmers of Steller Cove — sea lions Gus and Julius, and sea otters Eddie and Thelma — will receive red, heart-shaped ice treats and some floating heart pillows to play with. And at 1 p.m., polar bear siblings Conrad and Tasul get a cream cheese Valentine message to lick off the windows and a barrel full of papier-mâché flowers to inspect.

Cougars round out the day's activities with some treats to lick off their own windows along with Valentine-themed papier-mâché creations designed by the zoo's volunteer enrichment team.

This is the 13th year that special Valentine's Day enrichment treats have been given to zoo residents. The Oregon Zoo is known internationally for its enrichment programs, which mentally and physically engage animals by providing them with opportunities to play, forage and perform natural behaviors.

"The Oregon Zoo is committed to providing an engaging and stimulating environment for the animals through its enrichment program," said zoo curator Amy Cutting. "Enrichment happens every day at the zoo, but often it takes place behind the scenes or on a random schedule. Holidays like Valentine's Day give visitors some scheduled opportunities to see animals active on exhibit and interacting with their environment."

Full enrichment schedule:

  • 10 a.m. - Colobus and swamp monkeys
  • 10:30 a.m. - Orangutans
  • 10:45 a.m. - Chimps
  • 11:15 a.m. - Sea lions and sea otters
  • 1:00 p.m. - Polar bears
  • 1:30 p.m. - Cougars

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
 
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
 
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org