Zoos throughout the country are continuing the unorthodox Valentine’s Day tradition of naming animals and critters after exes — some of which will meet an unfortunate end in nature’s food chain.

If you’re trying to find a symbolic way to get over a former flame, care to benefit zoo ambassadors or have a Valentine with a ghoulish sense of humor, here are a few wildlife facilities that are hosting the naming campaigns.

Bronx Zoo’s Name a Roach


New York’s Bronx Zoo is bringing back its “Name a Roach” campaign for Valentine’s Day. 

The program, which got its start in 2011, allows zoo guests to name a Madagascar hissing cockroach for $15 — digital certificate included. The naming of a cockroach doesn’t have to be limited to exes, either. 

The Bronx Zoo encourages customers to name roaches after friends and loved ones.

Orders can be placed online now until Feb. 8, and on Feb. 14, the Valentine’s Day gift recipient will be notified that an insect has been named in their honor.


For even more Valentine’s Day fun, the zoo has added an assortment of new gift bundles, including a roach plush and a pair of roach socks. For $35, the recipient honored with the cockroach can meet one of the Madagascar hissing cockroaches he or she is named after with the “Valentine’s Virtual Encounter.”

“Naming a roach is a Valentine’s tradition for us. Roses and chocolates come and go, but roaches last an eternity — just like our love!” the Bronx Zoo website said.

Brookfield Zoo’s Name a Cockroach After Your Ex: Un-Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, is bringing back its annual “Name a Cockroach After Your Ex” campaign, which has been called an “Un-Happy Valentine’s Day” event for that “un-special (or special) someone in your life,” according to facility marketing materials. 

For $15, Valentine’s Day observers will get to name a Madagascar hissing cockroach. After purchase, customers will receive a Certificate of Naming in their donation receipt that can be put on display as a reminder of the cockroach now bearing your name. 

The donation also gives buyers placement on the Brookfield Zoo’s Cockroach Naming Board outside the Hamill Family Play Zoo on Feb. 14.


Only first names will be displayed for each named cockroach. Personalized messages will be excluded from the board as well, but customers have an opportunity to write personalized notes on the certificate that arrives with the donation receipt. 

The Brookfield Zoo will share photos of its Cockroach Naming Board on the zoo’s social media pages. If you’d like to make sure your named roach gets on the board in time, donations and submissions must be entered on the zoo’s website by Feb. 5, 2023, at 5 p.m. CST.

San Antonio Zoo’s Cry Me a Roach Fundraiser

The San Antonio Zoological Society in Texas is bringing back its annual “Cry Me a Cockroach Fundraiser.”

Zoo guests 18 years of age or older will be able to name a cockroach for $10, a pre-frozen rat for $25 or a vegetable for $5 and the “San Antonio Zoo will help squash your past, a true heartbreak healer, by feeding your selection to an animal resident,” the zoo’s marketing team stated online.

The San Antonio Zoo says its customers are free to name roaches, rodents and vegetables after an “ex-partner, boss or bestie.” 

Each donation goes on to support the San Antonio Zoo and its conservation effort. Fundraiser participants will receive a digital downloadable Valentine’s Day card showing they took part in the “Cry Me a Cockroach” event.

Lehigh Valley Zoo’s Catch and Release

The Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, is hosting its “Catch and Release” event.

Zoo guests can name fish after their “ex or bad boss, nosey neighbor, etc.” — and watch them be fed to the zoo’s beloved penquins. 

Each fish requires a $15 donation, which will support the Lehigh Valley Zoo’s conservation and animal enrichment efforts. Additional donations are welcome as well.

“Instead of feeling down that it wasn’t love at first ‘bite,’ turn your heartbreak into a ‘fin’tastic feast!” the zoo’s promotional team shared on its website.

On Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, the zoo will send the customer a link to the video capturing the moment when an African penguin devours your ex.

Alternative Valentine’s Day zoo activities

If naming a bug or animal that’s destined for feeding isn’t something that appeals to you, zoos are also hosting other Valentine’s Day events that are more uplifting in tone. 

Check your local zoo’s scheduled event listings to see what’s available in your area.

Other Valentine’s Day celebrations at zoos include one-of-a-kind dining experiences, sweetheart packages, symbolic animal adoptions and personalized messages.

Cortney Moore contributed reporting.

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