LOVE is in the air at Dudley Zoo for the many furry, feathered, prickly and scaly couples who have been carefully matched through breeding programmes.

The zoo's newest pairing - snow leopards Taïga and Margaash - were intrigued to find a Valentine's Day present in their enclosure this morning.

Keepers had given the big cat couple a wrapped box containing some tantalising smells and tasty treats.

Halesowen News:

                                             Taïga checks out her Valentine's Day gift

The pair - like all of the zoo's couples - were the result of some very precise matchmaking.

Animal couples are chosen by the species’ studbook holder, who considers thorough details about each individual, including pedigree and age.

Dr David Beeston, the zoo's registrar and research co-ordinator, said: “The studbook identifies which animals are closely related, which avoids any in-breeding and then makes all recommendations of who to match with who.

“Here at Dudley Zoo, we’re proud to be linked to many international conservation and breeding programmes, which are extremely important to how we manage our animal collection.

“In recent years, we’ve been incredibly successful with the breeding of Humboldt penguins, Asiatic lions and critically endangered Sumatran tigers, with youngsters moving to other collections around the world to form their own partnerships and to continue strengthening the species’ bloodline.”