Visitors launch over 300 butterflies

John Ball Zoo hosts second annual butterfly release event 

This summer, John Ball Zoo—with support from Michigan Butterflies, a locally owned company specializing in monarch butterflies—raised over 300 monarch butterflies in a small interactive exhibit. Throughout the season, visitors watched the entire life cycle from egg to larvae to chrysalis to adult. On Saturday, August 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Zoo will be hosting a hands-on release of those same butterflies, and they invite families to be a part of it.

Releases will take place on the hour—11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.—a total of five releases. Since there will no doubt be more kids than butterflies that day, families will enter a drawing to be one of the “releasers” who will have an opportunity to tag and hand launch the butterflies. Other winners might take home a monarch chrysalis that will emerge into a butterfly for later release. But even if they are not actually selected, kids will still feel part of the action because everyone can gather at the launch site on the boardwalk of the Zoo. There will be lots of other butterfly related activities going on that day as well.

The monarch is the only butterfly that travels over 2,000 miles to a very small region in Mexico. It’s not completely understood why all monarchs are driven to return to this area, and even more mysterious is that the offspring of the butterfly that makes the trip returns to the same area its parent came from.

The event is free with admission. There is no cost to release a butterfly. John Ball Zoo is located at 1300 W. Fulton, one mile west of downtown Grand Rapids. Hours through September 5, 2011 will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ; admission is $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for kids ages 3-13.

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