The monarchs are coming! Join us on Saturday, September 23, to celebrate the monarch migration, and learn how you can help monarchs and other pollinators.
One of the greatest spectacles of nature occurs in Oklahoma each fall. It’s the migration of millions of monarch butterflies from their summer breeding grounds in the upper United States and Canada to their overwintering grounds in central Mexico. Those who have been fortunate to be momentarily engulfed in a cloud of migrating monarchs or to see a tree weighed down by thousands of resting monarchs can tell you that it is an enchanting, unforgettable experience.
Monarchs funnel through Oklahoma each fall and spring on their incredible journey, and we need to roll out the flower and milkweed carpet to make sure they survive the trip. Monarchs have declined by 90 percent in the last 20 years because of human-caused habitat loss. We cannot allow the spectacular monarch, capable of flying 3000 miles and surviving months of hibernation, to disappear. Luckily the solution is simple and beautiful – plant flowers and milkweed! If you want to learn how, please join us for the Zoo’s annual Monarch Festival.
Our 2017 Monarch Festival takes place on Saturday, September 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. At the festival we will teach guests how to plant a garden for monarchs and other pollinators. Guests who pledge to plant a garden will receive a free milkweed plant. We also invite our partner organizations that are working to conserve monarchs to set up information tables to share their efforts. Local artists will be displaying and selling their nature-inspired art. There will be butterfly garden tours, butterfly-themed crafts for kids, storytelling and a special children’s migration. We will also be tagging monarch butterflies for Monarch Watch’s citizen science program.
New this year, we are hosting a 5K race and 1-mile fun run called Monarch Madness before the festival! Proceeds from this race will go toward a school grant program that provides funding for local schools to plant monarch gardens. This will increase habitats for monarchs and other pollinators and teach kids about the importance of pollinators. During the 5K race, runners will experience themonarch’s journey from Canada to Mexico by passing through zones themed as the cities a monarch would fly through. The race will end at the Zoo’s gate and runners will be able to enter the Zoo to enjoy the Monarch Festival. To register for the race or fun run, visit the Zoo’s website.
Please join us in celebrating magnificent, magical, monarchs on September 23!
– Dr. Rebecca Snyder, Zoo curator of conservation and science