Valentine’s Day. It’s for suckers, right? A Hallmark holiday designed just to part you with your money. But El Paso Zoo in Texas can help you celebrate in a way that will warm the cockles of your cold, black heart – and it won’t cost you a thing.
In a livestreamed event called “Quit Bugging Me”, zoo staff will feed their adorable meerkats a cockroach named after your villainous ex. All you have to do is send them a Facebook message with your ex’s first name and last initial.
Then you can load up the February 14 livestream on the zoo’s website and cackle with vindicated glee as that miscreant is shredded by tiny sharp meerkat teeth.
“This is a fun way to get the community involved in our daily enrichment activities,” Sarah Borrego of El Paso Zoo told CBS News.
“The meerkats love to get cockroaches as a snack and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by feeding them a cockroach named after your ex!”
Meerkats are a type of mongoose, native to the deserts of South Africa, where conditions are arid and food resources are scarce. They primarily live on scorpions and insects – they have a natural immunity to snake and scorpion venom – but will also eat reptiles, birds, small rodents, plants, eggs and frogs.
They’re well known for their sentry behaviour, taking turns to climb to a high vantage point to keep an eye out for threats while the rest of the meerkat mob forage for food. When the sentry barks the alarm, the mob scatters to the safety of their underground burrows.
Because of their specific dietary requirements, the meerkats will only be fed one roach each – the bugs are very calorie-rich, a special treat – and remaining roaches will be fed to the zoo’s monkeys.
According to the BBC, over 1,500 names have been sent in so far, so there’s a chance your ex will never see the inside of a meerkat’s gullet specifically.
That’s OK – the zoo is also going ahead with a name-and-shame, posting the names to social media from February 11. But if you want a surer bet, a few other zoos are offering name-a-cockroach promotions too.
Hemsley Conservation Centre in the UK will let you name a roach for a donation of £1.50 (US$2), Bronx Zoo will let you name a Madagascan hissing cockroach for US$15 (and is also selling roach merch), and Zoo Boise has the service for US$10 – although you can get a discount if you pair it with a zoo tour.
None of these zoos will be feeding their roaches to other animals, so perhaps it’s not fair to the poor insects to have to live with the name of a miserable lowlife. That’s your call, really.
But one thing is for certain: Valentine’s Day has never been this much fun.