GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — John Ball Zoo is set to release its latest generation of monarch butterflies, a species of butterfly that is endangered.
“(Monarch butterflies were) added to the list not too long ago. They’ve been dealing with quite a few different problems that have reduced their population drastically,” Nick Milbratz, assistant manager of guest programs at John Ball Zoo, said.
Milbratz said there are several conservation projects going on at the zoo.
“It’s really why we’re here: saving wildlife and wild places. We’re connecting people to the animals here at the zoo that they might not get a chance to see. Having those connections form help them care about those animals in the wild so we can make sure they’re around for future generations,” Milbratz said.
At the zoo on Saturday, monarch butterflies will be released on the hour between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will also be storytime at 11 a.m. and live music from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“Each monarch is going to have a tag on it with a unique ID. You’ll have a copy of that ID number so you can help track the monarch and how far it makes it on its journey,” Milbratz said.
The Habitat Heroes program is another endeavor the zoo has taken on. On Saturday, the zoo will hand out assorted plants that are native to Michigan. These plants help support pollinator species like hummingbirds and butterflies.
“That’s what they need to make that almost 3,000-mile journey from Michigan to Mexico where they (are) over winter. And then they head back to Michigan the next year. If we don’t keep giving them those waystations, nectoring stations to fuel up, then they won’t be able to make that journey,” Milbratz said.