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

February 13, 2013 - 9:33am

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