Zoos are always looking for ways to engage the public imagination and raise funds – and one zoo hit the bonanza this year. It invited the public to adopt giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches on behalf of their loved ones for Valentine’s Day, and to give their particular cockroach a name.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in New York asked romantics (if that’s the right term) to think of creative names for the cockroaches.
It costs USD 10 to officially name a cockroach.
The zoo has now done its sums and found that its name-a-cockroach effort raised an impressive USD 57,070 (AUD 72,870), which will go to help save wildlife and wild places around the world.
“The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Bronx Zoo roach spread a lot of love on Valentine’s Day,” John Calvelli, WCS executive vice president of public affairs, confirmed.
“We are thankful to everyone who believed that naming a roach after a loved one was more romantic than chocolate or roses.”
Seal Valentine’s Day with a hiss; that was the tagline – though reports circulated that some people were naming hissing cockroaches after ex-boyfriends, or their mothers-in-law.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo has more than 58,000 Madagascar hissing cockroaches living in its Madagascar! exhibit. Many are waiting to be named.
The zoo claims Madagascar hissing cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa) are the world’s largest cockroach species, reaching nearly 10cm long. They emit an alarming hissing noise as a defence mechanism.
While the naming opportunity has passed for this year, there are still plenty of nameless roaches at the Bronx Zoo that can be adopted once again on Valentine’s Day next year. In the meantime, if clients are visiting New York they might like to drop in on Hissing Hottie, Cranky Frankie, Lisa Lovebug, Hisssterical, and the other roaches at the Bronx Zoo.
Finally, claims that the Madagascar hisser is the world’s largest cockroach can’t go uncontested. Australia also claims the title. The giant burrowing cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros) is native to Australia. It feeds on dead eucalyptus leaves and dwells in woodland, growing up to 10cm long and weighing up to almost 50 grams – about the weight of an AA-size battery.
Written by Peter Needham