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El Paso Zoo allows patrons to name cockroaches that will be fed to animals after their ex

An illustration of a cockroach and a broken heart with the word "Ex" written on it


The El Paso Zoo is allowing people from around the world to rediscover their connection to their exes for a good cause. Its Valentine’s Day event “Quit Bugging Me” started last year and became a national viral sensation. It lets participants name a cockroach and then have it fed to the El Paso Zoo animals, something that was only extended to the meerkats last year.

According to the El Paso Zoo, this event lets people “celebrate the value of animals and natural resources and creates opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature.”

Rex Yamamoto, a BYU–Hawaii computer science junior from Japan, said he has not had a serious relationship, but he had seen others turn to alcohol to drown their sorrows, and this would be a better way to cope.

“I feel like the meerkat event symbolizes ending your relationship or history of that specific ex or former lover, [and then] you can probably find a new direction in life,” said Yamamoto. “You can’t really forget it because you will be stuck with memories of your former lover. I feel like El Paso is listening to the burden of those who broke up with their lovers.”

CBS News reported the event will “live-stream on Facebook and the zoo’s website. The [first names and last name initials] of those exes will also be displayed around the meerkat exhibit and on social media starting Feb. 11.” It is the “perfect Valentine’s Day gift,” according to the zoo.

El Paso Zoo Event Coordinator Sarah Borrego said, “The meerkats love to get cockroaches as a snack, and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by feeding them a cockroach named after your ex.”

Each individual meerkat will get one cockroach, according to BBC. This means the El Paso Zoo will “share the love” and feed their other animals in the zoo also.

EunBi Cho, a psychology senior from Korea, called the initiative creative. She thought it was a good way people could release the stored negative emotions after a breakup in a less-destructive way.

An accounting senior from the Philippines, Leo Bascara, said, “It sounds bitter to me. I hope the cockroach is good food for the meerkat.” He said he would not be participating.

Others found it funny, such as Tessia Wing, a hospitality and tourism management junior from Washington. Wing said it was an odd way for someone to get revenge and if she was feeling petty that day then she would participate.

According to Yamamoto, the zoo is helping the heartbroken “feel relaxed, move on with life, and give them hope that they will find someone they can cherish for eternity.”

CBS News also reported other zoos are offering non-traditional Valentine’s Day promotions. According to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo in Australia, people can name a snake after an ex for a $1 donation to the Wildlife Conservation Fund.

In Kent, England, the Hemsley Conservation Center gives cockroaches the names of exes for a small donation. You can do the same at the Bronx Zoo.

Participants can enter by messaging the El Paso Zoo with the first name and last name initial of your ex or exes, along with a small donation.