Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flutter into a world like no other when you visit Butterfly Jungle at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

You know spring has arrived when the days are a little brighter, the flowers begin to bloom, and the butterflies arrive at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Imagine being Alice when she first enters Wonderland – this is what you feel like when walking through the doors to Butterfly Jungle. 

Suddenly everything around you is alive with beauty and vibrant color. 

It is the best kind of sensory overload you can have. The sound of birds overhead, the warm feeling of tropical humidity, the smell of sweet nectar from the flowers, and the abundance of little wings fluttering all around you. 

It is truly a magical experience. One that must be experienced again and again.

Aside from the breathtaking beauty, Butterfly Jungle also helps bring awareness to the endangered status of the many species of butterflies. 

During our first visit to Butterfly Jungle last week, there were over 30 species of butterflies flittering around the exhibit from four parts of the world; Africa, Asia and Central and South America. 

Leopard Lacewing Butterfly

These delicate creatures have a great conservation message. The butterflies come to the Safari Park in the pupa stage via Federal Express overnight delivery from countries like El Salvador, Costa Rica and Columbia.

Emerging Box
The pupae are shipped in small cotton trays, carefully unpacked, and then immediately hung in the emerging boxes where they will emerge within a few days to one week. Since the butterflies are endangered and from outside of the United States, the Safari Park is required to have a special USDA permit allowing them to house the butterflies.

While attending a special social media tweetup, we had the opportunity to learn some fascinating things from butterfly keeper Sara Schmitt. We learned that butterfly farming is a sustainable use of the rain forest in countries like Costa Rica, where the first shipment of 500 butterfly pupae came from. By importing thousands of butterfly pupae every spring, the Safari Park is promoting conservation of rain forest habitat in these countries. Butterfly farming allows farmers to leave their land in its pristine natural form and harvest butterflies as a sustainable occupation.

Butterfly Jungle opened March 16th and runs through April 7th. If you havenot had the chance to go, I highly recommend you plan a visit over Spring Break. Be sure to check out the Safari Park's Butterfly Jungle web page before you go  - there are a variety of activities, butterfly I.D. guide, and contests too! My favorite is the Instagram contest. Just tag your Instagram photos with #ButterflyJungle and you are automatically entered. 

Zebra Longwing

We enjoyed Butterfly Jungle so much that we are going back this weekend for one more visit before the exhibit closes on April 7, 2013. 

... And this time I won't forget to buy my butterfly coffee mug ;)

To see more pictures from Butterfly Jungle you can view my album on Flickr

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