A zoo in the US state of Texas is celebrating Valentine’s Day by inviting visitors to name cockroaches after their ex-partners.
In an event called Quit Bugging Me!!!, keepers at El Paso Zoo will feed the insects to hungry meerkats.
They will also display ex partners’ names around the meerkat enclosure and on social media.
Sarah Borrego, the event organiser, said it was a “fun and different” way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
“All of us have exes and we are still not over it and it’s a great way to get the community in and also get out a little bit of the frustration,” she said.
The event will be streamed lived on Facebook and on the zoo’s “meerkat webcam”.
Since the event was posted on Facebook on Monday, the names of 1500 ex-partners have been sent to the zoo, with entries coming from as far afield as Germany and Australia.
The event has also sparked excitement on Twitter.Skip Twitter post by @NoblesTuesday
I just paid $2 to name a cockroach after my ex.
Petty? Yes. Do I care? No.— Tuesday (@NoblesTuesday) February 4, 2019
End of Twitter post by @NoblesTuesdaySkip Twitter post by @ktzeebra
I just named a cockroach after my ex and on Valentine’s Day it’s going to be fed to a meerkat so yeah, you can say I’m excited for Valentine’s Day— Katie 👑 (@ktzeebra) February 7, 2019
End of Twitter post by @ktzeebra
Only the first names or initials of ex-lovers are to be on display in the zoo and on social media.
Ms Borrego thinks that the overwhelming response may be an indication “that people are sick of Valentine’s” because it is so commercial.
She added that the zoo has not received any complaints about the event but that “there might be some backlash”.
Ms Borrego said the cockroaches will be fed to monkeys as well as meerkats.
“Cockroaches are considered a treat for meerkats,” she said. The animals will only receive one cockroach each as the insects are “the equivalent of cookies” for humans.
Bronx Zoo in New York and The Hemsley Conservation Centre in Kent, UK, are inviting visitors to take part in similar exercises.
Last year, Hemsley Conservation Centre had a two-for-one offer for couples to visit the zoo but this Valentine’s Day they decided to do something different.
Henry Weedon, the operations manager, said Valentine’s Day was a good opportunity for visitors to learn about the insects.
Visitors pay £1.50 ($2) to receive a certificate as a “keepsake” of the cockroach named after their ex-lover.
“We have had people say we’ll give you a £500 donation if you film someone stamping on the cockroach,” he said, but the zoo has refused, deciding to keep the cockroaches alive.
Like El Paso Zoo, they will also be displaying the names of the spurned lovers on Valentine’s Day.
Sydney Zoo in Australia has gone one step further – visitors have been asked to enter a competition to name a highly venomous brown snake after an ex-lover.
Entrants have to explain to the zoo what their ex did to earn a snake being named after them.