Feb 9, 2023 - News

San Antonio Zoo's cockroach event is wilder than before

A roach being fed to a lizard at the San Antonio Zoo.

A roach being fed to a lizard at the zoo. Photo: Courtesy of San Antonio Zoo

TikTok, meme pages and petty people (no judgment) are going wild for the San Antonio Zoo's annual get-back-at-your-ex event, as usual.

Context: Since 2020, the zoo has hosted Cry Me a Cockroach, a Valentine's Day-themed fundraiser giving jilted lovers the chance to name a cockroach after an ex — or any other person or thing they dislike — to be fed to an animal.

  • The event has drawn international media attention.
  • A TikTok by the zoo showing an employee dancing in a cockroach costume garnered more than 300,000 likes in January.

What they're saying: Cyle Perez, public relations director at the zoo, tells Axios his team started promoting the event earlier than usual this year. The result has been increased attention, spanning the globe.

  • Perez says the zoo received interview requests from media outlets in Japan, Australia and Europe.

How it works: People can make online donations of $5, $10 or $25 to name a roach, rodent or veggie after someone.

  • Donors can also send a themed card to the not-so-special someone letting them know a devoured critter has been named after them.

By the numbers: The number of total donations for 2023 isn't available yet, but there have been 20,000 donations since the inaugural year.

  • There were 8,000 donations from more than 30 countries in 2022.
  • The roach costume worn in the viral TikTok cost about $50.

Yes, but: The event doesn't equate to overeating at the zoo. Perez says the roaches and veggies are already part of the diet, but a video of a snack being fed to the animal will be sent to each donor.

The intrigue: Matt and Emily are the top names donors use.

The bottom line: "Conservation and education is the name of the game and just with that $10 donation to name your ex after a cockroach really contributes to that, so we thank everyone for participating and having a little fun doing so," Perez says.


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