Love is in the air at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo this week, as keepers treated the Asian elephants to a Valentine’s surprise.
Falling on the first weekend of the February half term, this Valentine’s Day would have normally seen the Zoo full of people showing the animals some love, but while their doors remain closed to the public, it’s fallen to the keepers to make the date extra special.
Keepers at the UK’s largest Zoo decorated the Centre for Elephant Care exhibit with heart-shaped pinatas that were stuffed with the pachyderm’s favourite snacks including apples and biscuits for elephants. The herd’s five females, who can eat up to 130kg of food a day each, made short work of the treats, quickly pulling them down with their strong trunks.
“It’s no secret that we love our animals, but Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to spoil them a little bit more!” said head elephant keeper, Stefan Groeneveld.
“The elephants loved their pinatas and showed off their incredible dexterity to retrieve every last treat from inside the hanging hearts. Youngster Karishma took the whole decoration down just to make sure she’d found every last tasty snack. Elephants have an incredible memory, so I’m sure this is a Valentine’s Day they’ll never forget.”
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo remains closed to the public, but devoted zookeepers and vets continue to provide incredible care for the animals that call the 600-acre site home.
Stefan continued; “We’d normally see lots of happy families and loved-up couples at the zoo at this time of year, but to give them something to do while they can’t visit, and to help us while we’re closed, we are calling on the public to go #WildAtHome this February half term. We’ve come up with some animal-inspired athletics to try, including leaping like a lemur, balancing like a flamingo or waddling like a penguin - so show us some love this February and take on wild challenge!”
Reliant on income from ticket sales to care for the animals and fund their global conservation efforts, months of enforced closures have put ZSL’s charity zoos under huge financial pressure. Vets and zookeepers will continue to provide the highest level of care for their animals, working throughout the lockdown. ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoos, is calling on the public to help ensure they remain open by donating to ZSL.