Why Give Flowers When You Can ‘Adopt' a Red Panda or Name a Roach This Valentine's Day

Two red pandas are set to debut at the National Zoo ahead of Valentine’s Day

Zoos across the country are making gift giving a wild experience this Valentine’s Day.

As multiple zoos offer targeted "adoption" and experience programs that aid animal conservation and celebrate Valentine's, flowers aren't the only way to show your love this holiday.  

To celebrate the arrival of two red pandas, the National Zoo’s adopt a species program is highlighting the cinnamon-furred animal for Valentine’s Day. At the $65 adoption level and up, donors receive a plush stuffed red panda, adoption certificate and photo. Thirteen other species are also available for adoption at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

The two red pandas, a mother and son duo -- Nutmeg and Jackie -- are set to debut this week as they get acclimated to their new home at the zoo. 

Their arrival to the Asia Trail exhibit has been highly anticipated since Jackie’s birth last June at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia.

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In the Midwest, it's sloth adoption that is a big hit.

The St. Louis Zoo's adopt a sloth program for Valentine’s Day has been so popular that it sold out this week. But other wild animals are up for adoption too, such as a polar bear, cheetah, king penguin and Asian elephant. 

At Lincoln Park Zoo, patrons may purchase a special gift for an animal off a wish list. The Chicago-based zoo also offers animal adoptions. The animal wish list includes meaty bones, bamboo stalks, hay and toys. 

Meanwhile, the Bronx Zoo is again offering the "name a roach" program after your significant other. The New York City zoo gives donors the opportunity to name its giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches. For $75, you can gift “the works,” which includes a certificate, roach brooch pin, crazy roach socks and a box of artisan chocolates. For $15 you get an electronic certificate in honor of your loved one. 

“Roses wither, chocolates melt but roaches are forever," said John F. Calvelli, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) executive vice president of public affairs. "Nothing lasts longer than a roach, so it could be sent as a symbolic gesture about how long your love will last or exactly the opposite. Some might say that love is like a roach – elusive, resilient, and sometimes very scary.” 

A Florida zoo has celebrated Valentine's Day with an interactive and educational program for the past 30 years. 

Zoo Miami's goodwill ambassador Ron Magill produces a special Valentine's program for adults over age 21. “Sex and the Animals: A Wild Night for Conservation” takes place on Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. 

Magill's presentation covers the "incredible facts surrounding the courtship and breeding behaviors found throughout the animal kingdom.” The program covers animal sex behavior from elephants to frogs and draws parallels to human sexuality.

The choice is yours: a box of chocolates, flowers, name a roach or a wild animal adoption experience this Valentine's Day. 

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