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Spider Conservation & Research

More about Butterfly Pavilion’s Tarantula Efforts  

BP is involved in tarantula conservation efforts around the world to help protect and conserve different species of tarantulas, including work with native species of tarantulas.  Tarantulas are a diverse group of arachnids in the family Theraphosidae. They are commonly kept in human care in zoos, nature centers, and by hobbyists around the world. BP maintains several species of tarantulas within its care.  Beyond displaying tarantulas in our zoo, BP is also involved in the following work:  

Tarantula Ecology: Working with Colorado State University and the Southern Plains Land Trust, Butterfly Pavilion began a study in 2021 on burrow site selection by Oklahoma brown tarantulas in southeastern Colorado. This study examines the influence of soil, vegetation, livestock grazing, and populations of tarantula hawk wasps (which parasitize tarantulas) on the location and density of tarantula burrows. We analyze this information to inform conservation efforts for wild tarantula habitat.

Tarantula Breeding: Several species of tarantula are threatened primarily due to habitat destruction and exploitation for the pet trade. In response, Butterfly Pavilion has been conducting research and creating protocols for their breeding under human care since 2010. In 2021, Butterfly Pavilion continued its leadership of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) SWARM (Safety Web for Arthropod Reproductive Management) for the Chilean Rose Hair. Finally, Butterfly Pavilion contributed to the care of several individuals in the Gooty Sapphire Ornamental tarantula Species Survival Plan.  In 2022, we successfully bred pink-toed and Chaco golden-knee tarantulas (part of SWARM) and continue our tarantula ecology work.   

AZA Safety Web for Arthropod Reproductive Management (SWARM). 

The AZA developed several animal care programs to facilitate collaboration in population management across institutions, including Species Survival Plans (SSPs) and Safety Webs for Arthropod Reproduction and Management (SWARMs). As part of BP’s contribution to invertebrate conservation, we participate in relevant AZA Animal Care Programs. Current programs involve 3 species of tarantula, including the Chilean rose tarantula, Grammostola rosea, SWARM. Gooty sapphire ornamental tarantula, Poecilotheria metallica, SSP and the Mexican red-knee tarantula, Brachypelma smithi, SSP 

In 2021, BP continued its leadership of the AZA SWARM for the Chilean rose hair tarantula and contributed to the care of several individuals in the Gooty Sapphire Ornamental tarantula Species Survival Plan. In spring 2022, BP successfully bred pink-toed and Chaco golden-knee tarantulas (part of SWARM). By studying the conditions needed for breeding different tarantula species, we can not only ensure the survival of the species, but also predict what environmental factors must be protected for the continuation of healthy, wild populations.