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Young butterflies at the manatee house

 

Since the opening of the manatee house on 30 July 2011 the visitors can observe tropical butterflies. Apart from a future-oriented approach to keep manatees, this made a further project of the Verein der Tiergartenfreunde Nürnberg e. V. (Association of the Friends of the Tiergarten of the City of Nuremberg) come true.

The zoo purchases most butterflies still as pupae from Costa Rica (www.butterflyfarm.co.cr). Every other week they are brought to Nuremberg within four days via airfreight and courier and attached to trees with pins. The butterflies are bred by small-scale farmers in Costa Rica, who thus preserve well-structured habitats and counteract monocultures. The farmers refrain from using pesticides in order to maintain their source of income, breeding insects.

At the manatee house the butterflies living there, of course, also reproduce on their own. About one third of the species shown at the manatee house in summer 2011 already has their own offspring. Some species - such as Heliconius melpomene - have a life cycle from egg via eruca and pupa to a butterflies that lasts between seven and twelve weeks. As butterflies, the animals live for about three to ten weeks. After mating, they lay their eggs on a passion flower. After approximately one week, erucae hatch from these eggs and shed their skin four times. After two to three weeks they pupate and after another two to three weeks the next generation of the butterflies hatches. Thus, up to eight generations of Heliconius melpomene can live their lives within one year at the manatee house.