Winged Wonders, the Oregon Zoo's popular walk-through butterfly exhibit, continues through Labor Day, with more than 450 Central and South American butterflies on display.
"I'm always surprised how such a small and delicate creature can have such a huge impact on our visitors," said Tony Vecchio, zoo director. "We hope that once visitors have been surrounded by these captivating fliers, they'll want to create an environment to attract butterflies in their own backyard."
The zoo's butterfly garden demonstrates conscientious planning, landscaping and sustainable gardening, while providing the four basic elements needed to sustain wildlife: food, water, cover and places to raise young. Planting herbs such as fennel and dill attract the caterpillars of species such as black swallowtail and anise swallowtail. Nectar plants like asters, zinnia and yarrow also attract butterflies.
The National Wildlife Federation has officially recognized it as a certified wildlife habitat. To learn more about the backyard wildlife habitat program, visit the NWF Web site, www.nwf .org/backyardwildlifehabitat/.
The Winged Wonders exhibit also complements Metro's new Nature in Neighborhoods initiative, a region-wide conservation effort that brings people and government together to ensure a healthy urban ecosystem.
Butterflies on display will include royal blues, Aglaura olivewings, Costa Rica clearwings, false malachites and others. They are sometimes attracted to bright colors, and visitors should dress accordingly.
"Butterflies sometimes mistake a colorful shirt for a flower," said Vecchio. "When these beautiful butterflies land on children or adults, the exhibit is the most magical place at the zoo."
The Aglaura olivewing has velvety black coloring with large blue stripes on the upper surface of its wings. It ranges from southern Mexico to Colombia. The Costa Rica clearwing, also called a glasswing, has mostly translucent wings with unique black veining, and ranges from Mexico to Panama. The false malachite, which has large patches of translucent green on its wings, ranges from Mexico to the Amazon Basin.
Before leaving the butterfly exhibit, visitors can view a display where dozens of pupae develop and grow. Butterflies that emerge from these pupae are released into the exhibit.
"It still amazes me that every day visitors can watch these beautiful creatures emerge from the pupal stage to become butterflies," said Mary Jo Andersen, butterfly keeper. "I feel lucky to witness something day after day that very few people get to see in the wild."
A display highlighting the zoo's field conservation projects with endangered Oregon silverspot and Taylor's checkerspot butterflies is also featured. The display describes how the zoo rears endangered butterflies and explains the life cycle of wild butterflies.
Winged Wonders is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and runs through Labor Day. Admission to the exhibit is $2, in addition to the zoo entrance fee. Web visitors can learn more about butterflies at www.oregonzoo.org/Butterfly/moreinfo.htm.
The Oregon Zoo and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have joined 34 zoos and aquariums from around the country to form the Butterfly Conservation Initiative. The initiative is designed to bring together government and non-government agencies to aid in the recovery of imperiled North American butterflies. The Oregon Zoo and AZA are committed to butterfly conservation. A portion of the proceeds from the Oregon Zoo's butterfly exhibit helps support the zoo's butterfly education and conservation efforts.
The zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Zoo visitors are encouraged to ride MAX or take TriMet bus No. 63 to the Oregon Zoo. Visitors who take the bus or MAX receive 50 cents off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-7433, or visit www.trimet.org for fare and route information.
General admission is $9.50 for visitors ages 12 to 64, $8 for seniors age 65 and older, $6.50 for children ages 3 to 11 and free for infants 2 and under. A parking fee of $1 per car is also required. Additional information is available at www.oregonzoo.org or by calling 503-226-1561.