January 27, 2016 Calgary Zoo

In the Heat of the Night

Guest blog: Laura Glick, Manager, Outreach Education at Calgary Zoo.

Something’s going down at the zoo this Valentine’s day…

Since 1995, the Calgary Zoo has brought levity to the most romantic of days, Valentine’s Day, with annual evenings dedicated to learning about the birds and bees. From humble beginnings that included plant tours at night in the Prehistoric Park, In the Heat of the Night has evolved into an enchanted and raucous night. Complete with gourmet dining in the tropical ambience of the ENMAX Conservatory and a series of naughty talks, you’ll never look at animals or plants the same way again.

A couple enjoys the atmosphere at In the Heat of the Night.

A couple enjoys the atmosphere at In the Heat of the Night.

Acting as the Calgary Zoo’s resident Dr. Ruth, Gillian Cardwell wrangles an all-star line-up of zoo staff, volunteers and industry experts and emcees the liveliest Valentine’s event in the city. Her official work title is Supervisor, Outreach Education but on February 13 and 14 she transforms into a renowned peddler of animal mating and courtship trivia. Not afraid to answer those questions you’ve always wanted to ask but didn’t know who to turn to, Gillian guides guests on a journey through dark corners that may involve dancing, mating calls or acrobatic positions (by the animals not the humans).

Helix pomatia mating.

Helix pomatia mating.

Every year has different topics and recently, themes have popped up and lent themselves to wonderful photo booth opportunities as well. Last year’s Harlequin archetypes and this year’s Vegas motif are sure to spice up an already flirtatious night.

“It’s important for folks to understand why we’re sharing the information we do,” Gillian shares. “We’re not just lurking on weird YouTube channels, trying to outdo the year before! As an accredited zoo, we have a responsibility to properly breed animals in our care, especially those populations managed under a Species Survival Plan. This means getting them to start doing it or sometimes stop for a while. We just get to share all the glorious details, sometimes in living colour.”

The SSP works to cooperatively manage individual species’ population, typically those which are threatened or endangered. Accredited zoos, aquariums and other partners will provide information annually on births and deaths of said species and a team of experts work to make breeding recommendations designed to strengthen the genetic diversity within that captive population.

Table for two at In the Heat of the Night.

Table for two at In the Heat of the Night.

Guests will hear first-hand accounts of the lengths (and sometimes depths) our zoo team goes to in order to assist those affected species in our care. This unique event has also become tradition for many attendees, with a few couples returning annually for more than ten years. There have been marriage proposals, a wedding reception and even fun stories that we can’t repeat…

Like they say about Vegas: what happens at the zoo, stays at the zoo.

Check out the complete menu details and to buy your tickets- tables for two or six on sale now.

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