At least 80 exotic species of butterflies will be housed in a building near the Otteri lake inside the zoo; it is expected to be ready by September

The Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur is all set to get a butterfly park.

The public works department (PWD) will begin work on the Rs. 5 crore-project next week, ending a 12-year delay, as the initiative was sanctioned in 2001.

Officials at the zoo said the caterpillar-shaped park will be built on 2.5 hectares, including the actual built-up area of 2,000 sq. ft. near the Otteri lake inside the zoo. “The caterpillar design was chosen because the tube-like structure, which is 60-ft. long and made of acrylic sheets, will not absorb much heat keeping the inside of the building cool,” said Prof. George Matthew, a senior entomologist at the Peechi-based Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), who guided zoo officials for the project.

Apart from home-grown butterfly species, the park will host at least 80 exotic sepecies of butterflies including the four-barred Swordtail from Australia, the Common Savanna Bush Brown from South Africa, the Australian painted lady and the Danaid Eggfly. Besides, more than 40 Indian species including the Common Leopard, Blue Mormon, Yellow Pansy, Red Helen and Common Jezebel will also be at the park.

The park will have a host of plants, a landscaped habitat, nectar gardens, a walking bridge and pathways for visitors as well as breeding and rearing centres and rock gardens to make it the perfect natural setting for butterflies. There will also be larval and adult host plants to aid the various stages of the butterflies’ growth process. A network of ponds will be interconnected by streams to maintain humidity inside the park.

“The site is ideal because it is near a water body where water is available all through the year. This will help maintain the temperature. Moisture content of the soil was another key factor when it came to selecting the site,” said a zoo official.

The park will be able to accommodate at least 100 persons at any given time. It is expected to be ready by September.

Currently, only a few zoos including the Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore and zoos in Vishakhapatnam, Surat and Thiruvananthapuram have butterfly parks. There are over 1,500 species of butterflies in India and Tamil Nadu alone is home to nearly 300 of them.

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