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The original item was published from 6/4/2008 12:54:10 PM to 6/16/2008 8:52:51 AM.

Como Park

Posted on: June 4, 2008

[ACTIVE] Como's Blooming Butterflies Takes Flight

Blooming Butterflies

SAINT PAUL, MN (June 4, 2008) - See hundreds of butterflies from Asia, North, Central and South America flying freely in a new indoor, temporary exhibit among tropical plants in a lush garden environment at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Como’s Blooming Butterflies opens this Friday, June 6 and is open daily from 10am to 6pm through September 7.

Visitors can experience a spectacular butterfly garden where they are immersed in a lush butterfly habitat surrounded by hundreds of butterflies moving freely throughout Blooming Butterflies. Over 100 species from around the world will be exhibited throughout the summer, with each visit creating a different experience. At any given time up to 500 butterflies can be found in the habitat delighting guests through intimate interaction. These beautiful, colorful creatures are curious, approachable and often rest on visitors as they stroll through the garden. Guests go home with a greater understanding of these fragile, beautiful insects, and a deeper appreciation for the importance of maintaining their habitat to ensure their survival.

Blooming Butterflies is a 2,500 square foot greenhouse, resembling a caterpillar, that is the perfect home for plants and butterflies. Inside you can chat with the volunteers about butterflies, their life cycle, and importance to the ecosystem. Or, you may prefer to simply come in and enjoy the beautiful garden while the butterflies flit and lazily fly around you and your family.

As many as 5,000 butterfly pupae (chrysalis) will be sent to Como throughout the summer. The chrysalis is unpacked, inspected for any sign of disease or parasitoids, then pinned to foam boards and placed into the emergence chamber. They emerge anywhere from two days to one week. Once the butterflies have emerged, staff will give them several hours to allow their wings to fully expand before releasing them. About 300 butterflies will be released each week.

While a few of the butterflies exhibited are found in Minnesota, the bulk of them are not native. Como holds a special permit to exhibit these non-native butterflies. Most butterflies are short-lived, and of the species we exhibit, the average life span is two to four weeks.

The best days to view the butterflies are warm, sunny days that translate to optimum butterfly activity. From opening weekend through the summer, the population builds until there are roughly 300 to 500 flying at any give time.

A home butterfly garden is easy way to both see more butterflies in your yard and to contribute towards their conservation, since many natural habitats have been lost to urbanization and other development. If you want to attract butterflies to your yard at home, it is important to provide food, water and shelter for butterflies. Both nectar and host plants, like milkweed should be offered.

Como’s Blooming Butterflies is made possible by the generous support of the Como Friends. Since forming in 1999, Como Friends has contributed more than $20.5 million to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. These gifts have been invested in visionary capital improvements such as the Visitor Center and Tropical Encounters; annual programs and improvements that have made possible new gardens, renovated animal habitats and expanded education programs; and the creation and growth of an endowment fund that supports annual operations. Special thanks to Linder's Garden Center, Monrovia, Spinless Wonders and Interlock Concrete Products.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory Background
For over 100 years, Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and Como Zoo in Saint Paul, Minnesota has charmed, educated and entertained millions of children and adults while fostering an appreciation of the natural world, helping to make Saint Paul the Most Livable City in America. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory welcomes 1.7 million visitors from around the world - the second biggest tourist attraction in Minnesota. The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is open 365 days; 10am-t from April-September and 10am-4pm from October -March . Admission to both the Como Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is always free and a voluntary donation is appreciated.

For more information, visit www.comozooconservatory.org.

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