Butterfly keepers, horticulturists and arborists are busy preparing the Hidden Jungle Aviary at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for the opening of Butterfly Jungle. Trees and plants have been trimmed, colorful plants full of succulent nectar will soon be placed as a food source for the winged insects, and shipments of butterfly pupae (also known as chrysalides) have been arriving almost daily for the annual springtime event which takes place March 14 through April 12.
Butterfly pupae are arriving from various countries including a shipment of 500 pupae, which arrived earlier today from Costa Rica. Butterfly farming is a sustainable use of rain forest in Costa Rica, and the importation of these butterflies promotes conservation of this habitat.
When shipments arrive, animal care staff carefully unpacks the pupae, sort and count them before gently pinning its silk attachment into a butterfly hatching box, where they remain until they are ready to emerge, sometimes within hours or days. Once the butterflies emerge from their chrysalides they are placed in a butterfly release box and let out into the Hidden Jungle aviary. The Park’s horticulture staff replaces 200 to 300 plants of a dozen varieties each week during the event to make sure the flowers are fresh and full of nectar for the butterflies.
At Butterfly Jungle, guests at the Safari Park are enchanted and spellbound as thousands of butterflies flitter around them in the walk-through aviary, which also is home to lush greenery and exotic birds including finches, colorful turacos and the beautiful sunbird, as well as many more.
The more than 30 species of butterflies highlighted during this year’s Butterfly Jungle hail from Africa, Asia, Central, and South and North America and include the zebra longwing, orange-barred tiger, Grecian shoemaker, monarch, giant swallowtail and blue morpho. In addition, the butterflies include the endangered Birdwing species from Indonesia. The Safari Park was able to offer sanctuary to these rare insects after they were confiscated by U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials from an illegal shipment sent to the United States earlier this week.
Butterfly Jungle runs for four weeks, March 14 to April 12, with extended Park hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Due to the popularity of this event, priority butterfly viewing is now available for a nominal fee. Guests to Butterfly Jungle are encouraged to wear bright colors and move slowly to attract the butterflies. Butterflies may land on a shoulder, head or anywhere they desire! Butterfly Jungle is included in Safari Park admission.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.
Photo taken on March 5, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.