Minnesota Zoo to Release Rare Prairie Butterfly for Final Time at Preserve

Minnesota Zoo to Release Rare Prairie Butterfly for Final Time at Preserve Hundreds More Dakota Skippers Heading to Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

WHAT: The Minnesota Zoo will soon begin the release of more than 200 Dakota skippers at The Nature Conservancy’s Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie Preserve. The native butterfly has disappeared from most of its historic range across the Northern Plains and only been found in a couple of sites in Minnesota in recent years.

WHEN: Releases are expected to begin on or around July 1 and continue over the next few weeks.

WHERE: The Nature Conservancy’s Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie near Lake Benton, Minnesota.

WHY: Dakota skippers are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Minnesota Zoo has released more than 450 skippers at Hole-in-the-Mountain since 2017 in an effort to restore a wild population in the state. Last year, Zoo staff documented breeding of reintroduced Dakota skippers at the preserve and the production of fertile eggs for the first time in about a decade in southwest Minnesota. Scientists expect to study the preserve over the next few years to determine if the effort has led to a self-sustaining population. Restoring Dakota skippers and the prairies they depend upon will benefit many other species and the residents of Minnesota.

PHOTOS, VIDEO AND INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES: Professional photos and video from the initial release of Dakota skippers are available upon request. Media outlets are also welcome to attend one of the upcoming releases at Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie, tour the Minnesota Zoo’s captive breeding facility or interview staff from the Conservancy and the Zoo.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. In Minnesota, the Conservancy has protected more than 690,000 acres of land and water since 1958.

The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. The Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

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