Valentine’s Day Greetings from New York’s Zoo and Aquarium

In keeping with the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates New York’s Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium, sent these pictures today:



Photos by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Paprika, a male red bird of paradise, presented a challenge for senior wild animal keeper, Patti Cooper.


Upon his return from a zoo in Florida, Paprika came back with increased human-imprinted behaviors, WCS said. Cooper and others in Paprika’s World of Birds habitat even heard him saying words. “While entertaining to some, this really was not a great attribute and could be a total turn-off in attracting a female of his species,” Cooper said.

Not wanting to give up on him, Cooper enlisted the aid of Carolyn Fuchs in WCS’s exhibit shop. “Together Patti and Carolyn came up with the idea to create a female red bird of paradise puppet to broaden Paprika’s horizons and give him another chance at love,” WCS said. “It took hardly any time for Paprika to redirect his attention and to become interested in ‘Spice Girl,’ the well-designed wire mesh and epoxy puppet. Paprika is now exhibiting the proper courtship behaviors.”

The Bronx Zoo is searching for a real female breeding partner for Paprika. Watch a video of Paprika and the puppet, narrated by Patti Cooper, on the Bronx Zoo’s Web site.

Red birds of paradise are endemic to the rain forests of New Guinea’s western islands. The male  has an elaborate courtship display. He performs what is known as the “butterfly dance,” by which he spreads and vibrates his wings like a giant butterfly.

Because of habitat loss and poaching, the red bird of paradise is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

“You say tomato, I say tomaaato, let’s fall in love!” Tomato frogs are a favorite among visitors to New York’s Bronx Zoo as they venture through the new permanent Madagascar! exhibit. The frogs enjoy a diet of ants and in nature are terrestrial and often make their home in waterlogged ditches, the Wildlife Conservation Society said.



Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Bronx Zoo’s lions, male M’wasi and female Sukari, have recently been introduced on the Zoo’s Africa Plains exhibit. A typical lion greeting last less than a minute, and includes touching heads, WCS said.

“Outside of Africa’s largest national parks, lions are disappearing rapidly. They are losing habitat to human encroachment. Field scientists Luke Hunter and Laurence Frank of the Wildlife Conservation Society, headquartered at the Bronx Zoo, are working to maintain African predators in unprotected areas, by helping people and livestock to live with lions,” WCS said.



Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium’s twenty-month-old baby Pacific walrus, Akituusaq, shows his love to Keeper Paul Moylett for Valentine’s Day. “The winter months are the best time to visit the Aquarium when the walruses enjoy the cold weather,” WCS said.



Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Residents of the Bronx Zoo Monkey House, these squirrel monkeys’ native range includes Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru in South America.

Related NatGeo News Watch posts:

Love Looms Large at the Zoo

U.S. Zoos Feel Pain of Budget Cuts

Zoo News



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