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Summer butterfly exhibit Flutter Zone opens on Saturday at the Maritime

Journey through a magical habitat flittering with beautiful tropical butterflies – and discover how to support butterflies’ vital environmental role – in “Flutter Zone,” a special summer encounter opening Sat., May 28 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

This walk-through exhibit offers guests the chance to mingle among up to 20 varieties of vibrant butterflies from Central and South America. The air itself will seem to dance with flights of blue, red, yellow, orange and more as the butterflies flit from flower to flower in the special outdoor exhibit on the Aquarium’s riverfront courtyard. Some of the butterflies may even land on you!

“The memorable encounters in ‘Flutter Zone’ exemplify the ‘summer of wonder’ experiences that guests will discover here in our exhibits, programs and special events,” said Exhibits Director Tom Frankie. “There’s really nothing more magical than immersing yourself in a space that’s alive with beautiful ethereal butterflies. And that experience is heightened more when they alight on you. As with our ‘Jiggle A Jelly’ exhibit, there’s an emotion involved, a commitment stirred, by physical connections – even with creatures as delicate as butterflies and jellyfish.”

Guests not only will learn how butterflies transform from caterpillars; they can watch the process unfold in real time through a special window onto the chrysalises whose metamorphoses will keep the exhibit flittering with butterflies throughout the summer.

"Flutter Zone” also will emphasize the horticultural and agricultural importance of butterflies, moths and other pollinators that – in their quest for sweet nectar – fertilize the seeds of the plants we need for foods, fibers, spices and medicines.

And displays highlight the incredible 3,000-mile multigenerational migration of monarch butterflies to Mexico, made more difficult now by the effects of climate change. Guests will learn some of the simple ways we can all support monarchs and other native butterflies, whose sensitive populations have declined in the last 15 years from such factors as habitat loss and weather extremes.

In addition, at a staffed “Flutter Fun” activity station, younger guests can take part in butterfly-related crafts and educational explorations.

Frankie said The Maritime Aquarium hasn’t been able to offer special outdoor exhibits in the past several summers, during construction of its expanded new seal habitat, “Pinniped Cove.” That 160,000-gallon exhibit opened last June as now its largest indoor display.

“It's wonderful to be able to invite our guests outside again to the courtyard and to take in the natural beauty along the Norwalk River,” Frankie said. “And we’re especially excited to present these exotic butterflies, which have been popular with guests in previous summers, but now to also include a serious ‘call to action’ message for protecting these important creatures.”

Open just through Sept. 5 (Labor Day), “Flutter Zone” will be free with Aquarium admission.

Learn more and reserve your tickets at www.maritimeaquarium.org.

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