Butterfly symphony at London Zoo
Thursday 25 May 2006
Tropical butterflies are making music at London Zoo’s brand new exhibit
Social butterflies can have a ball at London Zoo’s magical new exhibit Butterfly Paradise this summer.
The new tropical walkthrough exhibit will allow visitors to get closer to these remarkable insects.
The butterflies flit around freely inside a giant inflatable caterpillar, feeding on a range of specially selected tropical plants and even landing on visitors.
With more than 200 butterflies from Africa, south-east Asia and Central and South America, the new exhibit celebrates the amazing richness and variety of tropical butterflies and moths.
Sound sensors in the tunnel give an added twist by allowing butterflies to change the ambient background music with a flap of their fragile wings.
Plants around the outside of the tunnel have also been selected and planted to provide food and habitat for a range of British butterflies and moths, many of which are becoming increasingly threatened.
Curator of Invertebrates for the Zoological Society of London, Paul Pearce-Kelly, explains: “These butterflies highlight the huge number of species we risk losing if the global warming threat facing these highly vulnerable regions is not addressed.”
“This exhibition also supports butterfly farming initiatives in Costa Rica, Tanzania, Kenya and the Philippines where local communities are deriving much enhanced sustainable incomes from protecting their surviving forests.
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Notes to editors
Seven-year-old Casey Dumbrill, who is currently studying minibeasts at school, will be here at London Zoo ready to be photographed with butterflies landing on her.
The tunnel is also filled with tropical plants which the butterflies feed on so there is also ample opportunity to get close up shots of them.
The Zoological Society of London created the world’s first dedicated living invertebrate exhibition at London Zoo in 1881, mainly devoted to butterflies and moths (archive image of original guidebook available), so the opening of Butterfly Paradise gives London Zoo the unique distinction of having created both the first and the latest butterfly exhibit.
Butterflies and moths
An extraordinarily diverse insect group, there are more than 160,000 species of butterfly and moth.
The record for the most acute sense of smell for any animal goes to the male emperor moth, which can smell females from a remarkable range of 11km
Some butterflies migrate very long distances, despite their small size and fragile bodies. Some monarch butterflies in America have been recorded travelling more than 2,000 miles.
The caterpillar of the Oak silk moth increases its body weight an amazing 80,000 times in just 21 days
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide. For further information please visit www.zsl.org
0207 449 6280