Credit: Vancouver Aquarium
Back by popular demand and for a limited time only, the Graham Amazon Gallery at the Vancouver Aquarium®, an Ocean Wise® initiative, is home to thousands of tropical butterflies adding a flutter of majesty in this lush re-creation of South America’s rainforest. In addition to vibrant scarlet ibises, well-camouflaged sloths and endearing red-footed tortoises, visitors can connect with butterflies from May to September while learning about their unique life cycles and the important role they play in ecosystems near and far.
Step out of British Columbia’s temperate rainforest and into the Amazon’s tropical rainforest when you enter the Graham Amazon Gallery. Discover a wide variety of butterflies, including blue morphos, giant owls and heliconias, as you stroll along the boardwalk. Keen eyes will spy them feeding on nectar, fruit, and flowers, camouflaging on tree trunks, courting a mate and hitchhiking on lucky visitors. Learn all about the life cycle of these intriguing invertebrates as you observe them transition from pupae to butterfly in special viewing chambers. And emerge from the Gallery knowing more about these breathtaking, whimsical creatures as well as their importance to so many ecosystems across our planet.
“We’re really excited to re-introduce butterflies to the Graham Amazon Gallery since they were last here in 2014. Watching them as they flutter from one plant to the next is nothing short of amazing. Most importantly, connecting our visitors to butterflies in such an immersive way allows us to also connect them with the crucial role butterflies play in ecosystems,” said Andrea Cotter, assistant curator- Amazon at the Vancouver Aquarium. “Butterflies are pollinator species and play a key part in plant reproduction. Almost 90 percent of the world’s leading food crops rely on animal pollinators like butterflies. They are an important animal for us to conserve and encourage.”
Butterflies are truly fascinating creatures. Did you know?
• More than 4,000 species of butterflies have been identified in the Amazon, with hundreds more waiting to be discovered and described by scientists. There is much to learn about their basic biology, how they interact with one another, as well as the plants they depend on for survival.
• Butterflies are excellent pollinators; they flit from one flower to another, searching for nectar or places to lay their eggs, and cross-pollinating in the process.
• They use their coiled tongue to slurp flower nectar or a fruit’s juice. It works like a straw — extended for slurping but coiled when resting.
• Butterflies taste through their feet.
• Wing colours and patterns advertise potential mates, and warn, scare or hide butterflies from predators.
• A group of butterflies is called a flutter.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the biggest ecosystems and the most species-rich areas in the world, exhibiting extraordinary diversity and interdependence of aquatic and terrestrial life. Visitors to the Graham Amazon Gallery will experience this connectedness and learn about the challenges the Amazon is facing as well as how we can all help. Visitors will also discover ways to conserve butterflies afar and in our own backyard.
Experience butterflies in the Vancouver Aquarium’s Graham Amazon Gallery from May to September 2019. Access to the Gallery is included in the price of admission. Tickets are available at vanaqua.org/butterflies and support Ocean Wise’s ongoing ocean research, education, and conservation initiatives.