come to family day at the queens zoo

To win the hearts of their significant others, a few species of animals give gifts, some dance and others fight.
The courtship and mating rituals of birds and mammals, and not necessarily humans, will be the focus of a special “Cuckoo for Courtship” St. Valentine’s Day family program at the Queens Zoo on Saturday, February 14.
With the intention to educate the public about the different strategies for animal survival the curator of education at the zoo, Tom Hurtubise, created a two-hour class that includes a tour and information about the animals’ lifestyles related to mating “and love life.”
For lovebirds who visit the zoo, they will learn about certain birds like the Sandhill cranes, thick-billed parrots and American bald eagles that mate for life.
For example, every year the pair of Sandhill cranes at the Queens Zoo who’ve been mates since 1992 go through the same dance and song, literally, with the male engaging in a type of jumping to attract the female.
The thick-billed parrots preen each other’s feathers and share in parenting responsibilities.
“There are obviously correlations to human behavior, but I hesitate to say love life,” said Hurtubise, who has worked at the Queens Zoo for the past 16 years. “Some people would say that there is a form of emotional connection, like with elephants, but I personally think it’s about survival.”
In order to help the species survive, all of the ducks at the Queens Zoo have multiple mating partners because although a female duck may lay 10 eggs at a time, not all will survive.
This explains also why with certain species, the males have vibrant colors, are dominant, healthy, and successful compared to the females who usually care for the nest and need to camouflage with their surroundings. The stronger and larger elk, bison and sea lions have more females.
“It goes back to biology. Its better for the species not to be monogamous,” Hurtubise said. “We joke that it’s like a bad singles bar.”
The program price for two people is $16 for members/ $20 dollars for non-members. For more information, call 718-271-1500 or visit www.queenszoo.com.

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