Everyone’s wild about Valentine’s Day at the Brevard Zoo


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Tiki and Gizmo have been together since 1999 at the Brevard Zoo.

VIERA VOICE Courtesy of the Brevard Zoo

 

We humans might think we have the sweetheart thing wrapped up as our very own, but some residents of Brevard Zoo beg to differ. In fact, many of these loving couples have been together for decades and have no plan to leave each other.

Take Tiki and Gizmo, for example. The names of the two scarlet macaws might connote a progressive couple of the same gender, but these are a boy and girl pair definitely beak over claws in love with each other. Tiki, the handsome guy, is 20, and in the prime of youth for a macaw. Gizmo, his main gal, is 19. Their love is all-encompassing and abiding.

“They have been together since 1999,” said Elliot Zirulnik, communications manager at the zoo.

These childhood sweethearts are as passionate for each other as they were when they first laid eyes on each other just out of fledglinghood. Like any other lovey-dovey couple, they have their ways of showing affection.

“They sometimes preen each other’s feathers,” Zirulnik said.

Macaws, unlike many celebrities currently on the hot seat for sexual peccadilllos, are monogamous and mate for life. When they outlive their mate, they are heartbroken.  However, don’t fret about the future of this handsome pair, for scarlet macaws can last as much as 100 years in captivity, so Tiki and Gizmo should have many happy years of feather preening ahead.

Another loving zoo couple are siamangs Pete and Sapphire, who have been together since 1997. Siamangs, endangered arboreal gibbons native to the forests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, can live around 40 to 50 years in captivity, so you could say Pete, age 40, and his 39-year-old Sapphire are enjoying their golden years making beautiful music.

“Siamangs are known for their “singing” abilities,” Zirulnik said.

“Pete and Sapphire make loud calls together every day.”

At the other end of the age spectrum are babirusas Meru and Piggy, together since last year. Handsome Meru, with his truly awesome upper canines, is just 2 years old and his pretty teen queen Piggy has been on the planet for only a year. Like most teenagers in love, they just can’t keep their hands, or, in Meru’s and Piggy’s case, cloven hooves off each other.

“They are often seen “cuddling” in their exhibit,” Zirulnik said.

In the swamps of the Indonesian Islands that are the native habitat for the species, Meru would probably strike out on his own, while Piggy would hang out with girl groups, but at the zoo they have become a bonded pair. Folks in Indonesia call them deer-pigs because of their slender legs. If they could talk, Meru and Piggy call each other “dear” pig.

Babies often follow love, but not for these three zoo couples. Pete and Sapphire are past the nesting age, and Tiki and Gizmo seem to prefer the childless life. Meru and Piggy are another story.

“They’re not fully mature yet, so we’ll see what the future holds for them,” Zirulnik said.