Insect zoo and butterfly houses for public education: Importation, shipping, safety, regulatory, and environmental issues related to breeding and international trade of non-native insects


L. Saul-Gershenz

Informal science education institutions such as zoos, natural history museums, and botanical gardens exhibit live native and exotic insects and other arthropods to improve the general public’s knowledge about these organisms and promote their conservation in nature. The purpose of this paper is to summarise the process of shipping exotic arthropods for exhibits, and the regulations that apply, and to discuss issues that affect international shipment for this type of activity, such as escapes affecting the environment and delays affecting the viability of shipped insects. The regulatory agencies that issue permits for the importation of live insects for education and exhibit are discussed. The number of butterflies flying from those exhibits surveyed at any point in time ranges from 500 specimens to a high of 15,000 specimens at the Dubai Butterfly Garden as stated in websites, though the mean is 2,711. Insect zoos and butterfly exhibits play an overwhelming positive educational role by introducing millions of children and adults to the immensely important world of insects.

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