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Preparing Your Animal Facility for Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Everybody enjoys receiving a special Valentine’s gift. It shows they are loved and appreciated. The same goes for the animals in our care.

Donors and patrons like to include their favorite zoo, shelter, rescue, and petting park in their holiday celebrations. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to “matchmake” your animals with the public. Lee County Humane Society had a two-day Love Unleashed Valentine’s event to connect potential adopters to “fur friends.” The San Antonio Zoo is hosting its annual Wild at Heart Valentine’s dinner. Attendees get to dine on gourmet food while enjoying the company of Timothy and Ulma, the zoo’s hippos. Maybe your facility does not have gourmet dining or hippos. Not to worry. Here are some simple and fun valentines events you can adapt to your zoo, shelter, or animal care facility.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo offers a kids-only valentines night featuring pizza and a guided tour to meet small animals. Parents drop off their children while they enjoy a stroll through the zoo. For the 21+ crowd the zoo offers the Love is in the Air event. Visitors enjoy an adult beverage and take a romance-themed nighttime tour through the park.

Valentine’s Day is also a great time to offer friends and supporters a way to donate.

The Rogers Williams Park Zoo runs an annual Valentine’s Day Gift Guide as an online method for cash donations.

The Pennsylvania SPCA has an annual Send a Shelter Valentine. For a $10 donation, a special valentine is hung on the animal’s kennel door. The donation goes toward the shelter’s needs in caring for dogs, cats, birds, and small animals.

Supporters often like to donate specific items for their favorite animals. It provides a personal connection between the gift and the animal. Here are a few of the most popular enrichment toys that are gifted to shelters, zoos, veterinary practices, and other animal facilities.

Kong is a well-known brand among pet owners and animal care professionals. We carry the full line of Kong products. You’ll find toys for dogs, wolves, and other canids. Did you know Kong makes enrichment products for large animals like horses, lions, tigers, bears, dolphins, and primates? Kong has something for just about every animal.

Kong Zoo Horse Kong

Need something for a petting farm?

Consider these swine enrichment products as gift ideas. Children love small animals like mice, gerbils, hamsters, small primates, ferrets, and other furry friends. These small enrichment toys are ideal for Valentine’s gifts.

Pigs Playing with Easyfix Luna 50

Don’t forget the birds!

Parrots, cockatoos, cockatiels, and other birds are fascinated by colorful objects that rattle and can be manipulated. Visitors enjoy watching birds play with rings, bells, and mirrors. No matter what kind of bird, we’ve got a bird-friendly enrichment toy that will entertain and make a fun gift.

Avian Looking Bowl Mirror

Whether your facility is an exotic animal center or a local animal shelter, Valentine’s Day celebrations are an effective way to bring awareness to your important work and provide supporters with a way to grow closer to the animals in your care.

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Celebrating New Arrivals at Zoos Across the World

One of the most exciting times for zoos and animal parks is when they acquire an animal or a new “family member” is born at the facility.

New animals thrill visitors and staff alike. It also highlights the important work of wildlife conservation, captive breeding, and public education. At Otto Environmental we want to celebrate these new arrivals and highlight the zoos and parks that make this possible!

The Milwaukee County Zoo welcomes a new Gentoo penguin.

Gentoo penguins are native to Antarctica. These birds can reach a height of 51 to 90 cm (20 to 35 in) making them the third-largest species of penguin after the emperor and king penguins. The largest populations are found on the Falkland Islands. Zookeepers report that the chick is growing quickly, and that parents Oscar and Fiona are doing well caring for it. At this point, they are old pros, as several of their other offspring also live in the penguin habitat. Staff said “ The birds “are very curious and always up to something!”

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium added four Cheetah cubs to their facility.

Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one of nine Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institutions that participate in the National Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition. “Not long ago, cheetahs were considered one of the more difficult species to breed in zoos,” said Dr. Jason Herrick, Vice President of Conservation and Animal Health for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “Over the last couple of decades, the members of the National Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition, including our Wildlife Safari Park, have worked together to really figure out how to breed cheetahs.” The cubs were born at an off-display breeding site at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Park in Ashland.

Highland Wildlife Park celebrated the one year birthday of UK’s only polar bear cub, Brodie.

Brodie was born on 14 December 2021 to parents Victoria and Arktos. Keepers kicked off the party with a birthday ice-cake made of carrots, hot dogs, apples, cod liver oil, and peanut butter frosting. Brodie shared his cake with his mom who also celebrated a birthday, turning 26 in December. Vickie Larkin, carnivore team leader at Highland Wildlife Park said “Like all the animals in our care, our polar bears play an important role in attracting and engaging thousands of visitors each year so they can learn about the threats animals face in the wild and the action they can take to help. Their power to connect with people with nature and encourage behavior change is invaluable.”

Polar bear mother (Ursus maritimus) ying down on tundra, with new born playing, Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada

The Kansas City Zoo announced the birth of a rare black rhino calf.

The black rhino is considered critically endangered. Poaching has put pressure on wild populations. It is estimated that only about 740 black rhinos are left in the wild. Only 53 are found in accredited zoos and breeding facilities. Staff report the calf, and its mother are doing well.

Park visitors and patrons want to support this essential conservation work. We are introducing a new feature called Wishlist. Wishlist makes it easy to donate for special occasions in the animal’s life. Registered zookeepers are welcome to create a wish list that can be shared with customers through web links and social media.

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Celebrating Special Events in Your Animal’s Life

celebrating special events in your animals life

It’s always meaningful to celebrate an important milestone in your animal’s life.

Celebrating special events is fun for staff and visitors alike! Having a celebration focused on a milestone is a great way to highlight what’s happening at your zoo or petting farm. Media outlets love to cover these events, bringing awareness to your facility. The Pittsburg Zoo’s gender reveal party for a baby gorilla was a popular event covered by a local television station.

Here are a few of the milestones you’ll want to celebrate and share with visitors, patrons, and media outlets:

Partnering with your Local School

Also, don’t forget to include local schools. Chances are kids have already had a field trip to your location. Kids love animals and teachers can easily have a classroom adopt an animal. Think of ways to include them in the event process. Consider having a contest to name a new arrival. Field trips to see the adopted animal makes a connection between the kids, animals, and staff.

Celebrations and Donations

These events are the perfect time to let supporters know what your animals need with specific gift ideas, because this allows them to see what their donations are going to provide for the animals. Communication is important, so consider these suggestions:

  • Create a “gift registry” where an enrichment toy will be gifted to a specific animal. This is especially fun for gender reveal celebrations and new arrivals.
  • Buy gift certificates for local zoos
  • Visitors and supporters recognize large animals that have names. Announcing a birthday party on social media is the ideal way to celebrate the animal, promote the facility, and allow donors to give a gift to their favorite “zoo celebrity”. Check out the birthday party for Jonathan the Tortoise!
  • Try announcing a Spring or Fall “clean-up” event where old enrichment items are discarded and replaced with new ones.
  • Creating a year-end celebration event is an effective way to communicate all the great events that have occurred at your facility. It can also open the door for donors to contribute to your animal’s needs. Let them know that a year-end gift will have a lasting impact, from caring for the latest baby animal to providing enrichment items for the lions, birds, horses, and other types of animals you care for.

Keep visitors and patrons informed

If your facility is adding an exhibit, promote it with “Coming Soon” on the website and social media. Whether it’s a renovation, attraction, or new animal that’s making its home at your zoo or petting farm, let the word out! People are interested in fun and meaningful experiences with friends and family, so you know there’s always something to do at your local zoo or petting farm. Remind the public of what you have to offer by celebrating these animal-themed milestones and holidays. It’s fun for the visitors and the animals in your care, and it invites the public to take in all that your facility has to offer.

Holee Roller Modified for Gender Reveals