Name a Cockroach After Your Ex This Valentine’s Day

Zoos are soliciting donations and getting the public engaged by allowing them to name animals for a fee.

By Jessie Schiewe

The Hemsley Conservation Center encourages donors to name their roaches after “worthless” exes.

The Hemsley Conservation Center encourages donors to name their roaches after “worthless” exes.

I have a lot of exes that I have less than fond memories of. But since revenge is not an option, one way I’ve learned to get closure is by naming cockroaches after them.

In recent years, zoos have seized on this opportunity, allowing the public to name their animals for a donation. Naming a cockroach isn’t the only option, but they are the most common, probably because zoos tend to have a lot of them and there’s no expectation that staff will remember who is who. At the Hemsley Conservation Center in Kent, England, you can bestow a name unto a roach for a mere $2.70. You can do the same for $15 at the Bronx Zoo, or for $10 at the Wesselman Nature Society in Indiana.

Depending on the zoo, you can also pay to name ferrets, cuttlefish, naked mole-rats, ants, frogs, flamingos, and snakes, to name a few. The Smithsonian National Zoo has been selling honorary names for its tenants since at least 2013, dividing them into $10 and $20 tiers. Name certificates — either digital or printed — are common rewards for donating, but many programs offer added incentives like a jeweled roach brooch ($100 at Wesselman Nature Society) or roach-themed beanies and mugs ($55 at the Bronx Zoo).

Donate $1,000 to $25,000 to the Los Angeles Zoo and you not only get to “name your wild child,” but you also get a commemorative plaque, a V.I.P. tour, a visit with your animal’s care staff, recognition in zoo publications, a photograph, and of course, an official certificate. According to the Southern Californian zoo’s website, thousand-dollar names have so far been purchased for Hovannes, the crested capuchin monkey; Jack, the meerkat; Sofia, the Masai giraffe; Yoda, the radiated tortoise; Diana, the yellow-footed wallaby; and Bubbie, the golden-cheeked gibbon.

Though a lot of people tend to christen their animals after themselves or their relatives, some zoos have been motivating donors to think outside the box. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the Bronx Zoo is marketing their name a cockroach program as a “romantic” way to show your appreciation for your boo. “[It’s] the only gift that says ‘our love will last a lifetime,’ ” the zoo’s website reads.

Granted, Madagascar hissing cockroaches usually only live for five years, so perhaps undying love is not the true message at work here. In fact, it’s not like cockroaches are cute and cuddly creatures to begin with. Most people hate or are grossed out by them, so why would you name one after your sweetheart? Wouldn’t it be better to name them after an an ex or arch nemesis?

That’s the marketing tactic behind Hemsley Conservation Center’s cockroach naming program, and I can’t say I disagree with them. It’s a good way to let some steam out; to give someone who did you dirty the proverbial middle finger you were never able to give them in real life.

That’s why I do it. I’ll probably never get revenge on the booty call who stole from me or the scrub who tried to shame and make me feel gross about my body. But hey, at least I can name a nasty pest after them — and contribute to a good cause at the same time.


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