For some February 14th is the most romantic day of the year, but here at Perth Zoo every day is about ‘love’.
There may not be roses or candlelight dinners, but we are home to some of the world’s most experienced matchmakers. Before anyone gets too excited, we should point out that their expertise is reserved to species of the furry, feathery and scaly kind.
The Zoo is part of several coordinated breeding programs (particularly for threatened species) and as the annual baby boom reveals, we have had a pretty good success rate!
Love in the wildlife world works a little differently to what we humans may be used to these days, most animals have a pretty upfront way of showing their interest (no swiping or texting).
Here are a few success stories to inspire you this Valentine’s Day!
Dining not wining
Our ‘otter-ly in love’ pair, male Cerdik and female Paddy, were introduced here in 2017 after arriving from different international zoos. They have since delivered two litters of pups. Their keepers knew from the very beginning that there was something special between them when female, Paddy, was spotted offering her food for Cerdik to share.
In the wild it is usually the male otters that will offer their food to a female in an attempt to prove they are capable of caring for her and any future young. But of course Paddy is a confident woman and had no issues making the first move.
May I have this dance?
One of our country’s most graceful birds is the long legged Brolga, you can see them in our Australian Wetlands area.
Like many species when these birds find a match they bond for life and when it comes to starting a family the pair play a fairly equal role in caring for offspring.
So what’s the secret to maintaining such a strong connection? Dance!
They carry out a dramatic display of leaping, head shaking and trumpeting to help attract and strengthen the bond with their partner.
Smelling for a Soulmate
Reptiles are not generally associated with romance, but Emily Polla, Perth Zoo research assistant explains a scaly mate spends part of its life searching (and smelling) for ‘the one.’
“The Bobtail Lizard will usually form long-term monogamous partnerships,” Emily said.
“These relationships are somewhat seasonal as the Bobtail may live alone for parts of the year reuniting with the same mate during the breeding season.”
They often use their strong sense of smell to help find their partner after time apart. Talk about loyalty!
Sing it from the Tree Tops
One species that has no problems expressing their feelings is the critically endangered, White-cheeked Gibbon.
Primate Supervisor, Holly Thompson said: “Their family unit is so beautiful and the duet call they make is an indication of that bond.”
So next time you think you’ve heard a car alarm going off at the Zoo, remember it could be the beautiful singing of loved up gibbons.
Thanks to some pretty special matchmaking there have been seven White-cheeked Gibbons born at Perth Zoo in the last 16 years.
Check out the video below to see more examples of Wild Love! And if you are searching for the perfect #SavingWildlife gift for your valentine, why not purchase one of our elephant kiss paintings in the Wild Art Gallery and Zoonique.
13th February 2019
Media & Communications Officer