Minn. zoo launches program to save near-extinct butterfly

Author:
Publish date:

A native butterfly that once roamed Minnesota's prairies hasn't been spotted for about five years and may be facing extinction, the Pioneer Press reports.

In an effort to save the Poweshiek Skipperling, biologists at the Minnesota Zoo launched a breeding program that originates from 20 larvae inside a zoo freezer.

Experts say they're not sure what led to the sudden decline of the Poweshiek, but it's troubling for the prairie ecosystem that's been significantly reduced.

Tall-grass prairie once covered 18 million acres of Minnesota, about a third of the state. Now, less than one percent of the native prairie remains.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the butterfly is a candidate for listing as threatened or endangered.

Next Up

Related

Amur tiger cubs make debut at Minn. Zoo

Two endangered Amur tiger cubs are now on display at the Minnesota Zoo. A zoo spokesperson says the pair are nearly off bottles and are growing stronger. One of the cubs was born in Minnesota and the other was brought in this summer from St. Louis.

Zoo CEO: No way to save dolphin exhibit

Minnesota Zoo CEO and Director Lee Ehmke is trying to clarify why the zoo will soon discontinue its dolphins exhibition. There are two main reasons, he said, "the welfare of the two beloved dolphins currently at the zoo, and the fiscal and logistical challenges of acquiring a viable dolphin group to replace them." There are just "no viable" options to keep it going, he said.