Kids love Butterfly Jungle! — Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Safari Park
In addition to the fact that it puts smiles on the faces of San Diego residents and guests, there's another reason why San Diego Zoo Safari Park hosts the annual Butterfly Jungle exhibit. Some believe that it's tough to motivate people to save a species until they fall in love with it. And that's exactly what happens after you step into the Hidden Jungle aviary, where the butterflies hatch and live out their short life spans.
The monarch butterfly population is at its lowest level in 20 years, according to a 2013 report by World Wildlife Federation. Their breeding habitat is in danger due to deforestation and industrialization, while climate change impacts migration pattern and food sources. Since butterflies play an integral role in pollinating plants and trees - including those on farms that produce the food we eat - a goal of Butterfly Jungle is to raise awareness about this critical issue.
Over 10,000 butterflies will be on display. — Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The aviary is home to 30 species of butterflies hailing from Africa, Asia and Central and South America. Fifteen bird species, including red-crested turacos and sunbirds, also co-exist with the butterflies here. The climate-controlled environment is full of lush, tropical landscaping to provide food and cover for all residents.
Butterfly favorites include the monarch, giant swallowtail and blue morpho. Be prepared for butterflies to actually land on you, which is part of what makes this exhibit so special.
Have your smart phone ready to capture these priceless moments, then send them out on Instagram using the hashtag #ButterlyJungle. Each week, a phonetographer will be selected to win an epic safari adventure for four.
An up-close look at butterflies — Photo courtesy of Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Before you leave home, familiarize kids with the types of butterflies in the Butterfly Jungle aviary by downloading the Butterfly I.D. Guide from San Diego Zoo Safari Park's website. On the same page, also download a butterfly coloring page that kids ages 11 and under can color and bring to the park for entry into a prize drawing.
Admission to Butterfly Jungle is included with admission to San Diego Zoo Safari Park, though you'll need a timed ticket. Grab one from a booth near the aviary, but do it as soon as you enter the park in order to avoid disappointment. Butterfly Jungle is popular, so tickets go quickly.
Restaurants near Butterfly Jungle will feature butterfly-themed treats, including cupcakes and fudge.
Butterfly Jungle is at San Diego Zoo Safari Park for three weeks between April 5 - 27, 2014. Don't miss it.