Annual Spring Event, Presented by San Diego METRO Credit Union, Takes Place March 11–April 23
Thousands of butterflies floated and fluttered around the Hidden Jungle aviary at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park this morning (March 10, 2017), as children and adults alike marveled at these delicate winged insects. The invited guests were treated to a sneak peek of the Safari Park’s annual springtime event, Butterfly Jungle presented by San Diego METRO Credit Union, which opens Saturday, March 11 and runs through April 23.
At Butterfly Jungle, the walk-through Hidden Jungle aviary has been transformed into a temporary home for between 20 and 30 species of butterflies. As guests walk through this rain forest habitat, the colorful, eye-catching creatures surround them, fluttering lightly through the warm air to find nectar-filled flowers to feed upon. The aviary is also home to lush greenery and many species of exotic birds.
The butterflies come to the Safari Park in the pupae stage from farms in Central, South and North America. Upon arrival, animal care staff sort and count every pupa in a humidity- and climate-controlled room, before carefully placing them into a secure hatching box. When each pupa emerges from its chrysalis, they are taken to the aviary for release. The vivid-hued butterflies not only enchant guests, but also make ecological sense. “People coming here to see these beautiful creatures also support our work to conserve butterflies at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, as well as support sustainable butterfly farming,” stated Don Sterner, animal care manager, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “If they weren’t harvesting butterflies, many of these farmers would clear-cut their land and plant crops or raise cattle. Instead, when they harvest butterflies, they leave the land in its pristine state.”
The species of butterflies highlighted during this year’s Butterfly Jungle include the zebra longwing, orange-barred tiger, Grecian shoemaker, monarch, giant swallowtail and blue morpho.
Guests at Butterfly Jungle are encouraged to wear bright colors and move slowly, to increase the chances of butterflies landing on their clothes or hats. When the insects do land, guests should enjoy the close encounter but shouldn’t touch, because they could harm these delicate fliers.
Safari Park guests can enjoy Butterfly Jungle daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The popular event is included with Safari Park admission.