Animals in Love

Love is in the air at the Johannesburg Zoo. Some of our animals have shown great affection towards each other and have built loving relationships. The Spectacled Bears, Buff Cheeked Gibbons and Hippopotamus are among the many animals in the zoo that have found their partners and after many years of being together, still display adoration and warmth toward each other.

The Spectacled Bears were introduced to each other in 2006. The male, aged 18, and aptly named Valentine, showed no signs of aggression towards Tumu, aged 15, when he first saw her. They both seemed very excited and were happy to be together.  Like any old couple they depend on each other. Tumu makes up for Valentine’s lack of hearing and Valentine guides Tumu towards the treats in the enclosure. They can often be seen following and guiding each other in the enclosure. The Spectacled Bears are faithfully supportive of each other. When zoo staff enter the enclosure, Tumu is the first to greet them and Valentine follows. The couple have been together for over 5 years and their love for each other has not waivered.

Mar, the zoo’s male Buff-Cheeked Gibbon was brought to the Johannesburg Zoo in November 2009 and later introduced to Gabby in March 2010. At first, Mar seemed curious about Gabby and for a while sat and watched her eat. Soon, he joined her and the pair shared their first meal together. Later, they could be seen exploring and hanging from the ropes in their enclosure. Gabby set the pace and Mar eagerly followed her. Mar exhibits chivalrous behaviour towards Gabby by sharing food with Gabby. On the 10th May 2011, the pair became the proud parents of bouncing baby Buff-Cheeked-Gibbon, and now enjoy joint responsibility for nurturing and raising their baby.

The zoo’s Pygmy Hippopotamus, Crusty and Jellybean were born in Germany and have always been together. They were brought to the Johannesburg Zoo in 1997 and have thus far have successfully given birth to 2 calves. Their offspring are now based in Pretoria Zoo and Lion and Rhino Park. In August 2011, the Johannesburg zoo, and first time grandparents, Crusty and Jellybean welcomed their grandson Phitlhelelo from the National Zoo’s conservation farm in Limpopo. Phitlhelelo is housed next to his grandparent’s camp. Crusty and Jellybean’s tenderness toward each other has been manifested in their devotion to each other for 15 years.

Monogamy does exist within the animal kingdom. One of the main reasons for monogamous pairs is to protect vulnerable babies from predators. Certain animals such as Swans, Beavers, Gibbon Apes and Black Vultures will stay devotedly with one partner throughout their lives. For them, love is eternal.

Visit the Johannesburg Zoo this Valentines Day for a romantic outing for two. Entrance is R55 per person, with last entry at 4pm and closing time at 5:30pm.


Prepared Razina Pandor and issued by Letta Madlala Brand and Communications Manager on behalf of the Johannesburg Zoo. END.

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