Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly

The Greater Vancouver Zoo, along with Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) and other local and national partners, are working to protect species at risk, with some BC natives being the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly, Oregon Spotted Frog, and iconic Western Painted Turtle. These three conservation projects at the Greater Vancouver Zoo are led by Biologist Andrea Gielens (WPC) and Animal Care Manager Menita Prasad (GVZoo).

We help these animals in three main ways: Captive breeding, head-starting, and habitat restoration/maintenance. Habitat loss from urban development and invasive species means the wild populations don’t have enough areas to breed or live, so captive breeding and habitat restoration go hand in hand for supporting their recovery. Head starting is when the babies are reared until they are deemed old enough to survive in the wild and then released into their protected habitats. By helping them through their most vulnerable life stage the more mature animals have a much better chance of surviving. Captive breeding and head-starting for these species is done at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

The Taylor’s Checkerspot Recovery Program was a massive success this year with 786 caterpillars released on Hornby Island. These caterpillars did metamorphize into butterflies, marking the first time in 20 years that these butterflies have flown here, and hopefully persisting to be the third known population in British Columbia. WPC is also happy to report a potential 1353 caterpillars ready for next year’s release which will continue to bolster these wild populations.