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Animal couples at the zoo
Animal couples at the zoo

TACOMA, Wash.–Love is in the air at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! In honor of Valentine’s Day, visitors will have a chance to celebrate the zoo’s animal couples on February 15 and 16. There’s no concrete way to measure an animal’s love but many of the animals at the zoo are coupled up, or longtime companions, and enjoy each other’s company.

 

Cho Cho and Dudlee

siamangs sitting together.
Siamangs Cho Cho and Dudlee enjoying each other’s company.

The zoo’s two siamangs, Cho Cho and Dudlee, are long-time companions. Cho Cho is 53 years old and is believed to be the oldest siamang in human care in the United States.

But that doesn’t stop him from swinging around his ropes and hanging with Dudlee. He is closely bonded with her and enjoys being near her.

The pair are often seen together in hammocks, grooming each other or just sleeping together.

 

 

 

Terra and Gonzo

tamanduas walking
Tamandua pup Chiquita rides on mom, Terra’s back.

Southern tamanduas Terra and Gonzo are a breeding pair and welcomed a pup, Chiquita, into the world in August. Terra was brought to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to breed with Gonzo as part of a Species Survival Plan ® (SSP) through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Terra and Gonzo both make appearances in the Wild Wonders live animal show and Close Encounters, demonstrating their long tongue and climbing abilities.

Meanwhile, Terra and Chiquita share a special mother-daughter bond, with the pup often clinging to Terra’s back just like a tamandua would do in the wild as the mother climbs and hunts for food. Chiquita will make her public debut on February 15 at noon at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater.

 

Charlotte and Hyde

red wolves staring
Red wolves Charlotte, left, and Hyde, right.

Charlotte and Hyde, a breeding pair of endangered red wolves, became parents to eight pups in May, 2019. The wolves are part of an award-winning program at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium that has saved the iconic species from extinction.

Red wolves mate from February through March, so Hyde is currently at an off-site facility to prevent Charlotte from becoming pregnant again this year. As adorable as pups are, the Red Wolf Woods at the zoo is at capacity! The plan is for Hyde to rejoin his family in early April, when breeding season is over.

 

Walnut and Nutmeg

beaver family cuddles together
Walnut, Nutmeg and their beaver kit, Butternut cuddle together.

First there was Walnut, a male beaver living at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Then came Nutmeg, a female beaver who came to the zoo from sister zoo Northwest Trek as a companion for Walnut. In 2019, they had a beaver kit, Butternut.

Both mom and dad are vigilant parents, taking turns to nudge Butternut whenever she roams too far and snuggling up as a threesome for much of the day.

They live behind the scenes at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater.

 

Baku and Yuna

tapir mom, dad and calf
Baku, left, Yuna and Kazu, right

The zoo’s two adult Malayan tapirs Baku and Yuna are the best of friends. In July, they welcomed their calf, Kazu! He is the first tapir calf born at the Point Defiance Zoo in its 114-year history.

The calf’s birth came as the result of a breeding recommendation for Yuna and Baku by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for Malayan tapirs. The SSP looks at the genetic makeup of each prospective parent before recommending a pairing; this helps ensure diversity of Malayan tapirs in North American zoos.

 

Charlotte and Hudson

Muskoxen Charlotte and Hudson share the Arctic Tundra habitat as mates and get along very well. Charlotte is one year older than Hudson, and is very patient while he grows up and tries out bull behavior!

muskox standing
Muskox Charlotte and Hudson stand close together.

Feel the Love

Of course, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples! Come celebrate all of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s animals at Love at the Zoo on February 15 and 16. The animals will experience special Valentine-themed treats and enrichments that encourage their natural behaviors, from smelling prey to breaking up ice. Visitors can also meet zookeepers and find out how they care for animals.

This special event is free with admission to the zoo.

Love at the Zoo Schedule

Zoo & Aquarium hours: 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

10:30 a.m.: Penguins get Valentine enrichments, plus grass for nests

11:00 a.m.: Shark feed in South Pacific Aquarium (Sat. only)

11:00 a.m.: Lagoon fish receive red heart-shaped enrichments in South Pacific Aquarium

11:00 a.m.: Arctic fox gets Valentine enrichments and heart-shaped ice treats

11:30 a.m.: Polar bears enjoy barrels, heart-shaped salmon ice treats, and Valentine enrichments

12:00 p.m.: Chiquita the tamandua pup makes her debut with her mom Terra at the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater

12:30 p.m.: Tigers receive heart-shaped treats at the Keeper Chat

12:30 p.m.: Sea otters experience Valentine enrichments and heart-shaped ice treats

1:00 p.m.:  Elephants enjoy watermelon and other sweet treats at the Keeper Chat

2:00 p.m.: Red wolves get special Valentine enrichments

3:00 p.m.: Marine Mammal Keeper Chat