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Bugs: The perfect cure for heartbreak

Dominique Macias
The El Paso Zoo and the Botanical Gardens hosted the fifth “Quit Bugging Me” event, this year on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is known as the holiday where millions of couples across the world come together to celebrate their everlasting love through dates, flowers, dinners and more. However, single folks may not always share that luxury. 

The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens offered a peculiar event this year for people to enjoy Valentine’s Day, even if it meant watching a zoo animal eat a cockroach.  

The world-famous event, “Quit Bugging Me” returned for its fifth year in the borderland and was hosted Feb. 14. People gathered in person or via Facebook and Instagram live to witness the feeding of the cockroaches. This year, more than 500 names were collected over the course of two days.  

People were able to submit the name of anyone that has been bugging them. This event was not limited to exes, people had the freedom to name the bugs after anyone and anything. Some have submitted former bosses, mother-in-laws, father-in-laws, sports teams and superheroes. A zookeeper then did the honors and fed the cockroaches that represented the names to the meerkats.  

The event originated five years ago in February 2019 when it made national headlines. The experience was featured in various news stations in Texas, Utah, Delaware and Canada. The El Paso Zoo marketing manager, Oscar Arriaga says he takes pride in the fact that the local event has impacted many areas across the globe.  

“Other zoos across the country and even across on the other side of the world and different countries have also been doing the event, and that’s the sincerest form of respect,” Arriaga said.  

Aside from inspiring similar events in other areas, the El Paso Zoo has also received submissions from multiple U.S. states and countries like China, South Korea, Europe and Australia.  

People had to submit a name through a form the El Paso Zoo had available online.  Yet, that does not stop people from eagerly trying to register months in advance. Arriaga said people will reach out in numerous ways like email, texts and calls to claim their cockroach. He says people have gone to the extreme of approaching him in public to claim their spot. 

“Even when I wear a (zoo) shirt out in public, and I walk out to a grocery store or anywhere, they ask me, ‘Are you going to bring back the event Quit Bugging Me because I have a name to submit,’” Arriaga said.  

“Quit Bugging Me” has become a resource that can help people detach and say goodbye to an unpleasant time in their lives.  

“The way I think of it, it’s a way of closure,” Arriaga said.  

Those in attendance had similar perspectives. Xikali, 18, went to the event despite not submitting a name. She views the event as an amusing way to get back at someone.  

“I think it’s very fun, it’s very cathartic way if someone has wronged you, just submit their name and imagine they’re being eaten by a meerkat,”  Xikali said.  

Another individual, Camila, 18, felt joy when she watched the meerkat eat the roach that represented the name she submitted. 

“It’s a really good way of letting people go and after like going through so much together and just kind of seeing them symbolized as a roach, getting eaten, that’s just joyful to me personally,” Camila said.  

This event contributes to the community in other ways. When a person submits a name, they have the option to donate to the El Paso del Norte American Association of Zookeepers Chapter. This non-profit organization focuses on the care for zoo animals and zoo staff.  

The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Garden’s “Quit Bugging Me” event has become a local and global phenomenon that has positively impacted zoos and heartbroken people everywhere.  

Arriaga plans to continue the tradition for the following years. For more information regarding the “Quit Bugging Me Event,” check out  

Melissa Herrera is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Melissa Herrera
Melissa Herrera, Contributor/Writer
Melissa Herrera is a senior here at UTEP, majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in marketing. Melissa is a contributor for The Prospector. She plans to pursue a career as a news reporter after she graduates.
Dominique Macias
Dominique Macias, Contributor/Photographer
Dominique Macias is a junior majoring in media advertising minor in creative writing. She is a contributor at The Prospector. After graduation Dominique hopes to pursue a career in the media publishing world; as a photographer or writer.
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