Sorry for a couple-day hiatus in writing – I was out of town for the weekend, and Thursday night I had no time to blog due to the fact that I was on the greatest Valentine’s Day date ever!
‘The Love Tour: Mating rituals that might make you blush,’ run through the Minnesota Zoo as a fundraiser for their conservation programs. First of all, this date was a complete and total surprise, planned by the fabulous Noah. I will admit I had pretty high expectations since I had been hearing comments like “I’m so excited for Valentine’s Day” since last March, but this completely exceeded even my highest hopes.
What made this the greatest Valentine’s Day date ever? See for yourself…
First, we got to the zoo (I was immediately excited since I love the zoo but still didn’t really know what was going on). We went inside, and were greeted by friendly zoo staff and champagne.
Waiters came by with appetizers – mini polenta cakes and lettuce wraps with strip steak and pico de gallo:
That was about when I learned that we would be having a Tropics Trail Tour to learn all about the mating rituals and practices of animals. A delicious dinner follows the tour. Sneak peak at the dining room:
While we’re waiting for the tour to begin, there’s plenty of entertainment (besides the food and champagne) to keep us occupied.
I think I’m better at boggle, but these games were fun. 🙂 After much anticipation, the tour began, and it was SO interesting/fun/funny/greatest time ever. The zookeepers leading the tours all volunteered their time for the event, and our guide told us that the keepers really enjoy the event since they don’t usually get to talk about mating rituals with their regular tour groups (ie, elementary school groups). Heading into the tropics, our first visit was to the ring-tailed lemurs:
a little hard to see, but the lemur is sitting on the branch in the top middle area of the picture
Male lemurs rub their mating smelliness all over their tails and then wave their tails around to attract females. This lemur was sweet enough to have decorated his pen for us:
Next up was the rhinoceros hornbill:
For anyone who says that monogamous relationships are unnatural for animals, they should meet a rhinoceros hornbill. These birds mate for life, and they can live for up to 90 years. What’s more, the female completely trusts the male to stay with and provide for her, as the mother stays inside a tree trunk for the entire egg-incubation time period. The male brings her food and all of the supplies for the nest. Even more faithful, though, are African Penguins. What makes African Penguins incredible is that no instance of dual-partnership has ever been recorded in the wild. Not a single one. Wow!
on the trail
Next up were tropical fish:
We learned that zebra sharks are one of the few species that have ever been recorded to reproduce asexually. Female zebra sharks have reproduced alone. A Jesus-shark (as noted by our tour group), if you will.
Although sad for the tour to end, I was excited to get to dinner, especially after seeing there was a live band!
Our table number was number 38…
…and there were salads and a bread basket waiting for us when we arrived:
The salad was delicious with grapefruit, feta, and toasted almonds. For the main course, we were served beef tenderloin, cod, asparagus, and potatoes:
I took my fish home with me since I still needed room for dessert.
Dessert was honestly one of the best things I have ever had. I don’t think Noah loved it quite as much, but I am way more of a chocolate person (all you ladies out there, say heyyyy). 🙂
Molten lava caked with chopped pistachios and fresh whipped cream (the whipped cream seemed to have a little espresso flavor). This was so good.
We even got treats to go in the form of two truffles from Max’s, the sponsoring organization.
Overall, this was hands down the best Valentine’s Day I could have imagined. Thank you, Noah – you’re my African Penguin. ❤