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Meet Our Animal and Plant Scientists

An introduction to our animal and plant experts here at Butterfly Pavilion.

By Mary Ann Colley, VP of Science & Conservation

Butterfly Pavilion has accomplished a lot in 2018 thanks in no small part to the individuals that care for and manage our animals, plants and conservation projects. Ever wondered who takes care of our Rosie behind-the-scenes, keeps the diverse plants in our exhibits healthy or travels across the world to conduct our innovative research projects? Let me introduce you to our incredible Science & Conservation team.

Animal Care

Mario Padilla, Butterfly Pavilion Entomologist and Beekeeper, (pictured below) manages over 40 beehives on our site and in the Denver Metro Area and also cares for the diverse collection of land invertebrates you see in our exhibits. He’s currently working on some exciting research like Chilean Rose Hair tarantula (the species of our Rosie!) breeding in our lab and bee fencing to decrease human-elephant conflict in Nepal. You’ll also find him teaching our Beekeeping Bootcamp Series, which teaches beginners how to establish and maintain thriving beehives. Mario’s favorite part of his job is collaborating with local zoos and international conservation organizations to ensure a future for invertebrate animals.

Sara Stevens, Butterfly Pavilion’s Aquarist, (pictured below) takes care of all of the underwater animals at our zoo – this includes 1,500 gallons of exhibits! However, along with making sure everything from our powerful mantis shrimp to our dynamic octopus are happy and healthy, she also conducts essential research in the field, including a current study assessing the health of invertebrates out in California’s coastal sand dunes for the Bureau of Land Management. Sara loves that her job gives her the opportunity to work with animals that many people don’t know exist.

Sarah Triplett, Butterfly Pavilion’s Lead Zookeeper, oversees the care of all of the animals you see in our exhibits, ensuring that all of our incredible critters are accounted for and doing well. A big part of this role is managing about 20 interns per year and providing essential animal training for staff and volunteers, including everything from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) containment guidelines to Rosie handling. This past year, she has also managed the relationships between Butterfly Pavilion and our butterfly suppliers from around the world. Sarah’s favorite part of her role is running the internship program, helping students gain real-world experience to jump start their careers.

Heather Genuchi and Selena Mayer, Butterfly Pavilion Zookeepers, focus on animal breeding and all other aspects of their care in our exhibits. Heather’s favorite part of the job is spider breeding and care – she just loves hanging out with arachnids! Serena loves that she gets to witness the many interesting behaviors of our animals up close.

Plants & Grounds

Amy Yarger, Butterfly Pavilion’s Director of Horticulture, oversees and directs all plant operations at our zoo, like the Wings of the Tropics conservatory and satellite sites like Good Samaritan Hospital and Clark Creek Valley Park. She’s an expert on building thriving invertebrate habitats and manages exciting initiatives like the Urban Prairies Project, which has harnessed the power of volunteers to restore over 50 acres of suburban and urban open space land in Colorado. Amy’s favorite part of her job is being out in the field doing hands-on restoration.

Alyssa O’Brien, Butterfly Pavilion’s Horticulture Manager, oversees the stunning tropical plants that live in our Wings of the Tropics conservatory, along with our outdoor gardens and nature trails that feature seven acres of pollinator habitat and open space. One of Alyssa’s most exciting projects is the opening of our Butterflies at Chatfield exhibit every year, a collaboration with Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms that showcases native Colorado plants and butterflies. Day-to-day, Alyssa greatly enjoys pruning our trees here at Butterfly Pavilion.

Joe Barry and Ashley White, Gardeners at Butterfly Pavilion, play critical roles in ensuring our indoor and outdoor plant collections are thriving. No two weeks are the same for Joe and Ashley – there are always new and exciting plant projects for them to tackle throughout the year. Joe’s favorite part of his job is working outside and keeping things beautiful, while Ashley loves working with volunteers and using creativity to help guests engage with our gardens.

Research & Conservation

Rich Reading, Ph.D., is Director of Research and Conservation at Butterfly Pavilion. Along with his involvement in the animal and plant conservation programs already mentioned here, Rich is managing other exciting research. He’s currently advising the Saudi Arabian government on creating a royal nature reserve, assessing the health of Parnassius butterfly populations in Mongolia, and working on butterfly farming and bee fencing projects that build businesses and livelihoods for local communities, while conserving the environment. Rich loves being in the field collecting data and then analyzing it!

And last but not least, there’s me, Mary Ann Colley, Vice President of Science and Conservation at Butterfly Pavilion (pictured below). I have the distinct privilege of leading these departments and supporting my team members in their roles, while also leading initiatives of my own. I oversee all zoo operations, ensuring that we are meeting the standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and are upholding the conditions and regulations set by the USDA. I’m particularly excited about one initiative I formed and currently chair called the Colorado Pollinator Network, which brings together individuals and organizations across our great state to develop solutions for pollinator conservation. I’m also excited to be working to support the implementation of the I-76 Pollinator Highway.

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about the passionate Science & Conservation experts at Butterfly Pavilion, I invite you to stay tuned every month for more stories in our Newsletter highlighting our latest and greatest work. And, of course, I encourage you to visit us and see all of the beautiful plants and animals that we curate up close! Click here to plan your visit.

Blog

September 25, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

We Believe in the Power of Invertebrates

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September 11, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Monarch Magic takes Center Stage at Butterfly Pavilion, Sept. 16-29, 2019

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August 30, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Monarchs in Mexico – A Butterfly Pavilion Trip

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August 20, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Your Beekeeping Questions, Answered

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August 13, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Three Colorado Organizations – Teakoe, Local Hive™ and Butterfly Pavilion – Brew Up Plan to Protect Pollinators

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July 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

The Best Defense is a Good Bee Fence

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July 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Bring Butterfly Pavilion to Your Classroom this Fall

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July 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Grow a Pollinator Sanctuary

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July 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Peacock Mantis Shrimp “Chuck Smashty” Arrives at Butterfly Pavilion for its big zoo debut on Saturday!

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June 28, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Follow Your Nose: A Fragrant Tour of Butterfly Pavilion’s Gardens

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June 28, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Teaching Toxic Terrors

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June 28, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

You’re Invited to Rosie’s Birthday Bash!

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June 20, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion Announces Pollinator District, a New Model for Conservation and Real Estate Development

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June 19, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Mosquito and Tick Season Survival Guide

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May 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterflies at Chatfield Farms: A joint venture between Butterfly Pavilion and Denver Botanic Gardens

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May 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Making an Impact for Oceans, Right Here in Colorado

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May 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

How to Make Lasting Memories this Summer with the Whole Family

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May 24, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion Celebrates Pollinator Week with a FREE Outdoor Movie Night, featuring Bee Movie, sponsored by Local Hive™ from Rice’s Honey®

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May 23, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

How a Mistake Became an Opportunity

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May 21, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

6 Unique Things to Do ONLY at Butterfly Pavilion

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May 1, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Grass Stains are the Goal at Butterfly Pavilion Camps

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April 30, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Pollen: Friend or Foe?

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April 30, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Take the Plunge, Become a Beekeeper!

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April 25, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Mommy to Be Rainforest Yoga

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April 3, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with Butterfly Pavilion!

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April 1, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Crowdsourcing Science: How Everyday Citizens make large-scale Science Possible

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March 29, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion: A Second Home for Homeschoolers

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March 27, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion Receives $13 Million for its New Facility from Broomfield

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March 4, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Get to Know Your Neighbors in Butterfly Pavilion’s Newest Exhibit – Colorado Backyard

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February 26, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Get to Know Your Neighbors in Butterfly Pavilion’s Newest Interactive Exhibit

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February 25, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Meet Rosie without Leaving your School or Home!

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February 25, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

The Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus)

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February 20, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Colorado’s Butterfly Pavilion Weighs in on Insect Population Declines

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February 20, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

A Response to Article: Why insect populations are plummeting – and why it matters

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February 11, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterflies and Birthdays

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February 1, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Monarchs: Are the Numbers Up or Down?

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January 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion Welcomes New Butterfly & Moth Expert to its Ranks

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January 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

An Inside Look at Butterfly Pavilion’s Education Department

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January 31, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Seniors Enrich Butterfly Pavilion through Innovative Employment Program

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January 4, 2019
By Butterfly Pavilion

Meet Our Animal and Plant Scientists

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December 4, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Distance Learning: It’s for Everyone, Near & Far

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December 3, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Bee Fencing to Protect People and Elephants

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December 3, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

A Cure for Winter Doldrums

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November 28, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

12 Days of Invertebrates Animal Showcase (and Song!) Comes to Colorado’s Butterfly Pavilion This December

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November 2, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Colorado State University and Butterfly Pavilion Formalize Partnership

CSU and Butterfly Pavilion expand their support of interns and their research impact.
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November 2, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Inspiring Environmental Stewardship

We're inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards.
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October 17, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Statement on National Academy of Sciences Study Findings

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October 16, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion on FOX31 Morning News

Visit Colorado's Invertebrate Zoo to see impressive toxic terrors.
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October 4, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion in Mongolia: Parnassius Butterfly Conservation

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October 2, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Environmental Education: Making Magical Connections

Environmental Education: Making Magical Connections
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September 28, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Colorado’s Butterfly Pavilion Debuts Its New Look

Butterfly Pavilion Launches New Brand and Website
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September 17, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

BUGTOBER Returns to Butterfly Pavilion Oct. 1-31, 2018 for a Month of Toxic Terror!

Join us....if you dare!
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September 6, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

The Business of “Bugs”: Leading Environmental Action for Sustainability

A Business of “Bugs”: Leading Environmental Action for Sustainability
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September 4, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

Protecting Spiders with the SWARM Program

We work to protect the species others overlook.
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August 17, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

Colorado Celebrates World Honey Bee Day at Butterfly Pavilion

Celebrate World Honey Bee Day at Butterfly Pavilion
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August 3, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

The Importance of Nature Play & Family Adventures

Nature is essential to our well-being as humans.
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July 13, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Summer Events in Full Bloom

Summer Events and Exhibits are in Full Bloom at Colorado's Butterfly Pavilion
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July 2, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

Dragonfly Research at High Altitude

Loving Dragonflies at High Altitude
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July 2, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

New Media. New Experiences.

It's incredible what a team can pull together with a little bit of passion.
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June 20, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Colorado’s Butterfly Pavilion And Denver’s Edible Beats Restaurant Group Announce New Beehive Partnership

We are proud to establish and manage a beehive in the Edible Beats Restaurant Group's urban garden. We are incredibly happy that honey from our bees, locally sourced will be served at some of Denver's best restaurants like, Root Down, Linger, Ophelia's, Vital Root and El Five.
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June 4, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

Monarchs & Magical Cities: A Journey to Mexico’s Monarch Sanctuaries

Monarchs & Magical Cities: A Journey to Mexico's Monarch Sanctuaries
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May 25, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion Statement on Poisoned Bees

As a leader in pollinator conservation, Butterfly Pavilion has a responsibility as stewards of invertebrates and their habitats to find sustainable solutions to the pollinator crisis, through habitat restoration, research, and responsible conscientious pest management practices.
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May 7, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

Telling the Untold Story: The Value of Interpreting Invertebrates

The Value of Interpreting Invertebrates
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May 7, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

Beekeeping, Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education, and Rice’s Honey

Beekeeping, PACE, and Rice's Honey
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April 17, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion Announces Naming Contest for Our New Octopus

Can you come up with the winning name for our Octoups Vulgaris, the common octopus?
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April 5, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

Saving Coastal Dunes, One Bug at a Time

Did you ever think bugs could save a beach? Well, they can!
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March 23, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

New Survival Exhibit Opens at Butterfly Pavilion on March 24, 2018

Colorado’s only invertebrate zoo, will debut its newest interactive exhibit, Survival, beginning March 24, 2018.
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March 22, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

The Mystery of Colorado’s Butterfly Populations

“Where have all the butterflies gone?” is a common question I get when I tell people I study butterflies for a living.
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March 6, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

World Spider Day Comes to Butterfly Pavilion March 17, 2018

World Spider Day Spins a Fascinating Web at Butterfly Pavilion on March 17, 2018
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March 2, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

The Value of Citizen Science

Picture a scientist. What is the person wearing? What are they doing? Do you they look anything like you?
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February 1, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

Entomophagy: Could Eating Insects Save the World?

Entomophagy is the technical term for eating insects...
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February 1, 2018
By Mary Ann Colley

The Urban Prairies Project: Habitat Conservation and Community Wellness

Sometimes, conservation and habitat restoration wind up building community.
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January 22, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

A Message from our President and CEO

Science and education can change the world.
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January 22, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Keeping PACE with Butterfly Pavilion’s Conservation Efforts

The Science and Conservation department at Butterfly Pavilion is excited to make important strides for pollinators.
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January 22, 2018
By Butterfly Pavilion

Two Colorado Companies Join Forces to Promote Pollinator Awareness Worldwide

Rice’s® Honey to partner with Butterfly Pavilion’s PACE Initiative to inform consumers about the importance of pollination.
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November 1, 2017
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion to participate in the Colorado Pollinator Summit at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Nov. 2, 2017

One of every three bites of food eaten worldwide depends on pollinators like bees, butterflies and beetles and without them, there would be no fruits, nuts, vegetables, oils or most flowers!
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September 26, 2017
By Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion’s New Facility in Broomfield, Colo. to be the Global Hub for Invertebrate Research, Conservation and Education

New, $30M, 60,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art invertebrate zoo and research center will be the jewel of the global invertebrate community – inspiring a new way of connecting to environmental conservation.
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