Archive: Love Rocks at the Detroit Zoo

No stone is left unturned when penguins are looking for love

January 31, 2017

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

According to Beyoncé, if you like it, put a ring on it. For the penguins in the Detroit Zoo’s Polk Penguin Conservation Center, if they like it, they put a rock on it.

When a male penguin finds the female he wishes to waddle through life with, he embarks on a search for a suitable stone to give her as a gift. Once he picks the perfect pebble, he places it at her feet, declaring his desire to mate. If the female accepts this “pebble proposal”, the rock will be one of many used to build their nest.

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, the Zoo will host a pebble-painting workshop where guests can use non-toxic paint to decorate rocks, which will then be placed inside the penguins’ habitat. The activity will take place during the Wild Winter celebration on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Ford Education Center. The event also features zookeeper talks, games, crafts and live performances. All Wild Winter activities are free with Zoo admission.

The embellished rocks will be delivered to the penguins during a Valentine’s-themed event called “Heart Fest” on Wednesday, Feb. 8. This event will highlight Detroit Zoo animals who “heart” one another, including the penguins. For the full schedule, see the Events section at