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Governor Polis Appoints Richard P. Reading, Ph.D., Butterfly Pavilion’s VP of Science & Conservation to Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission

Recognition Complements Recent Award from Mongolian Government and Advancement to Executive Leadership Team at Butterfly Pavilion

Media Contact:
Jennifer Quermann,

Westminster, CO – July 19, 2022 -Butterfly Pavilion announces recognition across the globe for Richard P. Reading, Ph.D., including an appointment to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission by Governor Jared Polis, and ceremonial acceptance of the Mongolia Order of the Polar Star in recognition of his significant contributions to wildlife conservation, during a special observance at the Mongolian Parliament Building while in Mongolia conducting conservation research.  Both accolades come on the heels of his recent promotion to Vice President of Science & Conservation for his exemplary work in invertebrate research and conservation around the world.  

“This recognition is no surprise to those who work with Dr. Reading and have had the honor to witness and benefit from his incredible passion, innovation, and dedication to global efforts to conserve and protect invertebrates and their habitats,” said Patrick Tennyson, President and CEO, Butterfly Pavilion. “Rich has been an integral asset to Butterfly Pavilion’s drive to be the global hub for invertebrate research, education, and conservation and is helping to increase our footprint for these efforts around the world from Tanzania and Saudi Arabia to Mongolia and our own backyard – Colorado.” 


Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission 

As of July 1, 2022, through 2026, Dr. Reading has joined the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, responsible for perpetuating the wildlife resources of the state, providing a quality state parks system and providing enjoyable and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities as a representative of the public at large.  A main objective within his role is to help educate and inspire current and future generations to serve as active stewards of Colorado natural resources. 

“Colorado is my home, and while I am involved in conservation efforts around the world, this extraordinary honor puts me in an even greater position to connect our state’s communities with the beauty and wonder of nature,” said Dr. Reading.  “This is also an opportunity to educate our residents about the important role of invertebrates play in ensuring that our outdoor recreation spaces, and in fact our entire planet, remain viable and healthy for us to enjoy.”   

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is a nationally recognized leader in conservation, outdoor recreation, and wildlife management. The agency​ manages 42 state parks, all of Colorado’s wildlife, more than 300 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs.   

The Parks and Wildlife Commission sets Colorado Parks and Wildlife regulations and policies for the state’s parks, wildlife, and associated recreation programs. Commission members are unpaid volunteers who represent the geographic and stakeholder diversity of Colorado.  The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is a 13-member board appointed by the governor. There are 11 voting members and two non-voting members of the Commission.  


Mongolian Order of the Polar Star Recipient 

In 2020, Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga issued a decree awarding Butterfly Pavilion’s own Dr. Reading, the high state decoration of Mongolia, the Order of the Polar Star, in recognition of his significant contributions to wildlife conservation, leadership, strengthening bilateral cooperation, and building the capacity of the next generation of Mongolian conservationists over the last 26 years.  Past recipients have included former U.S. President Barack Obama and the former U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia, Alphonso La Port. 

Last week, while in Mongolia conducting research on the ecology and population dynamics of several threatened species of native Mongolian Parnassius butterflies as a basis for developing a conservation program, Dr. Reading received the Order of the Polar Star during a special ceremony at the Mongolian Parliament Building amongst Parliament members.  He was also honored with a Parliamentary medal for his global conservation efforts.   

Dr. Reading and Butterfly Pavilion focus on working in close cooperation with Mongolian colleagues and graduate students from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and Mongolia National University. He also led the effort to conduct a two-year assessment of invertebrate biodiversity in the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, providing a sample of the collection to the reserve for their use and house the rest of the collection with the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. He is now working to write a guidebook for the most common invertebrate species of the reserve. 


About Butterfly Pavilion 

Butterfly Pavilion has been part of the Colorado community since 1995 and is the first Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited, stand-alone, non-profit invertebrate zoo in the world, currently occupying a 30,000-square foot facility situated on an 11-acre campus provided by the City of Westminster, Colorado. Butterfly Pavilion’s mission is to foster an appreciation of butterflies and other invertebrates while educating the public about the need for conservation of threatened habitats in the tropics and around the world.  

Beyond Colorado and the United States, Butterfly Pavilion conservationists are doing important invertebrate research projects around the world from Mongolia and Saudi Arabia to Tanzania and Indonesia. Closer to home, a new Butterfly Pavilion in Broomfield, Colorado is planned to open in 2025 in the Baseline community, setting the global standard for invertebrate science and conservation. The $55M, 81,000-square-foot facility will include greatly expanded guest experiences, world-class research labs and a much larger zoological facility. Learn more at