Saint Louis Zoo celebrates National Pollinator Week June 20-26

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SAINT LOUIS ZOO CELEBRATES NATIONAL POLLINATOR WEEK JUNE 20-26




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Saint Louis Zoo photo

Saint Louis Zoo celebrates National Pollinator Week June 20-26

Jun 10, 2011

NATIONAL POLLINATOR WEEK IS JUNE 20-26, 2011

Saint Louis Zoo will host educational activities and pollinator dinner

One out of every three bites of food we eat depends on pollinators. Honeybees, bumblebees and other insects, birds and small mammals pollinate over 90% of the planet's flowering plants and one third of human food crops.

June 20-26, 2011 has been declared “National Pollinator Week” to recognize the importance of pollinators for the health of ecosystems as well as our own survival.

During this week, the Monsanto Insectarium will host keeper chats, demonstrations on attracting bees to gardens, beekeeping and more. The Painted Giraffe restaurant will offer daily specials featuring food provided by pollinators.

The Zoo is offering a special “Pollinator Dinner” on June 23 in The Living World. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with a honey tasting, informational booths and cash bar serving mead. The gourmet dinner buffet includes salads, sides, main courses and desserts prepared with ingredients provided by pollinators, such as almonds, strawberries, lemons, a variety of vegetables, honey, chocolate and more. After dinner, the Zoo’s curator of invertebrates, Ed Spevak, will speak about the past and future of conserving native pollinators. Reservations are $31.50 for adults and $20 for children ages 12 and under. Reservations can be made by calling (314) 646-4857. Proceeds benefit the Zoo.

During spring through fall, the Saint Louis Zoo conducts scientific surveys of bumblebee and other pollinator populations in Forest Park's restored prairies. The surveys are part of the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Native Pollinator Conservation Initiative (NPCI), in cooperation with the Zoo’s Center for Conservation in Forest Park, Forest Park Forever and St. Louis Parks Department.

There are over 20,000 species of bees in the world, more than all species of birds and mammals put together, according to Ed Spevak, curator of invertebrates at the Zoo.

“Many of the more than 4,000 native bees in North America are actually far better pollinators than honey bees for crops like alfalfa, clover, tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, squashes and more,” says Spevak. “But more importantly, they are invaluable to the functioning of many habitats and to the birds and other animals that feed on the seeds, nuts and fruits from the labors of these pollinators.

“Unfortunately, a number of native bees are disappearing. Everyone from local homeowners to farmers to conservationists can help the bees as well as other pollinators by growing a wildflower garden, protecting habitat and reducing our use of pesticides and herbicides. Everyone can participate in the conservation of this group of animals,” says Spevak.

In addition, the Native Pollinator Conservation Initiative is working with the Zoo’s Education Department and Saint Louis University to develop teacher training programs and workshops on pollinators and pollination ecology. It’s also working with the Zoo’s Orthwein Animal Nutrition Center experimental gardens looking at flower preferences by bees and other pollinators to help people identify appropriate flowers and plant pollinator friendly gardens.

For more information, visit www.stlzoo.org/pollinators .

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Media contacts:

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900

Janet Powell, ext. 4633

Christy Childs, ext. 4639

Joanna Bender, ext. 4703

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