Animals Are Swiping Right To Find Their Perfect Match This Valentine's Day

Tudder/Sell My Livestock

Tinder launched in 2012 and sparked a digital matchmaking revolution. Indeed, according to one 2017 study, online dating is now the most popular way for singles to meet prospective partners. 

So it's only fair that other animals are able to get in on the action too. 


You may have heard of Romeo the frog and Sudan the northern white rhino. Both were given Tinder profiles to raise awareness of the conservation issues facing endangered species.

Romeo did, finally, meet his Juliet, largely thanks to the money raised from the campaign. Sadly, Sudan passed away, the last male of his species, which now means efforts to save the northern white rhino hinge on samples of Sudan's sperm and DNA collected before his death.

In 2019, online dating for animals has become more than just a PR stunt. Conservationists and agriculturists alike are now swiping right to find suitable matches for their charges.

Take, as an example, Tudder – the app that "seeks to unite sheepish farm animals with their soulmates". Farmers can play the role of "moo-pid" and "match" their cattle to cows and bulls across 42,000 British farms, the app says. 


Zoos and wildlife sanctuaries are using similar methods to connect their residents to animals living on other sides of the planet in efforts to boost the success of endangered species breeding programs.

Hugo, a 68-year-old Galapagos tortoise at the Australian Reptile Park, is one such case. After decades of living life as a bachelor, he was matched with 21-year-old Estrella, a Galapagos tortoise from Germany, who will be joining him in the park later this year.

Of course, only time will tell whether they can make things work offline.

Then there's Samboja, the test subject of a 4-year-long project to find out what exactly it is female orangutans look for in a mate. Researchers have built a special "Tinder" for apes that lets her swipe left and right on pictures of male orangutans listed on the international breeding program. 


Meanwhile, in the US, a Texan zoo has built an algorithm to find the ideal partners for Attwater’s prairie chickens, an endangered bird native to the Lone Star State threatened by loss of habitat and invasive fire ants. 

"It’s like for chickens," Hannah Bailey, Houston Zoo's curator of birds and animal records, told the Houston Chronicle.

There are just 200 of these birds left in the wild and because inbreeding is such a great risk, the zoo cannot let females choose partners of their own accord. The algorithm sifts through each bird's genetic information to find the least related individuals – and matches them.

These algorithms may be incredibly useful but, just as with humans, a "perfect match" online does not necessarily mean things will be plain sailing when the lovebirds meet face-to-face. 


"The program tells us what the best genetic matches are. But that does not always mean that when we introduce those two together, she’ll think he’s all that great," Bailey explained.

"So we have to look at not only who she’s best genetically paired with, but we have to make sure the boys on either side of her – and across the hall – are genetic matches too. Because sometimes, the male will be booming, and displaying in her pen, but she’ll just be walking along the side, looking at the guy next door longingly."