Hellabrunn Zoo offered three love-themed evening tours, which invited couples to enjoy up-close encounters with the animals and learn romantic facts about various species, followed by candlelight dinner in the zoo restaurant to round off a memorable adventure. On Tuesday, 14 February, the zoo hosted a special after-hours event: The Love in the Animal Kingdom tour offered couples a unique opportunity to meet the animals after closing hours and learn about love and relationships among the different species. The participants were divided into three groups for a one-hour tour, which kicked off at 6 pm in a romantic evening atmosphere at the zoo. During the tour the participants were able to discover all sorts of fascinating facts about how animal couples find each other and how long they stay together. The topics discussed included mating behaviour, selection criteria for choosing a partner and "eternal love" in the animal kingdom.

And it was well received. A total of 30 couples, accompanied by zoo guides, set off on different routes around the zoo after closing hours, during which they discovered many amazing things about how different animals choose their partners. Whether it’s a companion for life, a mate for a new season or an addition to a harem – the social and sexual behaviour of animals when choosing a partner is as diverse as the variety of life on our planet.

For zoo guide, Ilse Tutter, Love in the Animal Kingdom is one of the most exciting guided tour themes at Hellabrunn: "Of course, all aspects of the animal kingdom are exciting in their own way, but the search for a partner and mating are particularly special. Whether it’s social or sexual monogamy or choosing a new mate each season, these animal behaviours are all reflected in the attitudes we are familiar with from human love life.“ Melanie Jahreis, another zoo guide, was pleased with the response from the Valentine's Day tour: "It's always nice for us to see how well the knowledge we impart is received. With some facts, you get astonished faces, which of course makes our job of informing the participants particularly exciting. It’s also nice to see how small insights throughout the entire tour enable us to provide a better understanding. Andreas Dürr, the third zoo guide, added with a smile: "The allotted time of 60 minutes seemed almost too short for all the questions. Many of the participants would certainly have loved to discover more facts for another hour, which of course is a compliment and a nice way to end the evening”.

Zoo director, Rasem Baban, sees the Valentine's Day event as a successful start to this year's event calendar at Hellabrunn: "After the Covid restrictions of the past two years, we are looking forward to offering a wide range of events at Hellabrunn this year. This special tour has had a very positive response. We announced the event on 24 January, and within two days all the available places were booked out. We have to admit we were a bit surprised by that.”

More information about the topics “choosing a partner” and “homosexual behaviour in the animal kingdom” is available on the zoo’s Mia san Tier podcast episodes 3 and 13 at:  www.hellabrunn.de/podcast.