New Wildwood Zoo Exhibit Delighted Visitors this Summer
Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) After a summer of butterflies, the final count is in.
Marshfield residents Jim and Melissa Gwiazda, who spearheaded a new butterfly exhibit at the Wildwood Zoo this summer, surpassed both their initial goal to release 1,000 butterflies and a revised goal of 1,500.
The season’s total count was 1,583.
“We are very pleased with the numbers we turned out this season!” said Melissa. “It was a LOT of work, but well worth it. Thanks to all the support and donations of caterpillars and eggs as well. We appreciate everyone who helped us out!”
Last summer, the family released over 600 butterflies that were raised at home, surpassing their goal of 400. This year, after transforming the box turtle enclosure into a screened butterfly sanctuary, the couple officially opened the exhibit in mid-June.
As those butterflies make their way south as far as Mexico for the winter, the Gwiazdas have already started planning for next year.
“It was our first season and we definitely learned a lot and how to improve things,” Melissa said. “The exhibit worked out very well! We had some complications over the summer when the storms rolled through, but it was fixable.”
Their favorite memories came from the feedback they received from members of the public about the healing effect the butterflies had on them.
“There was a Harley biker guy who held a butterfly in his hand with tears in his eyes who told me of his wife’s passing, and how that very moment holding that butterfly meant the world to him, that he needed that moment in his life right then,” she said. “I still get choked up thinking about it.”
Visitors young and old delighted in the chance to hold and pose with the newly hatched butterflies, including a 90 year-old woman who could say she held a butterfly for the very first time.
Besides zoo releases, the Gwiazdas also had the opportunity to release the butterflies for special moments, such as the funeral service for friend John Kloch, 86, who had enjoyed attending a release over the summer and passed away on Sept. 1.
The exhibit will return to the zoo next June. Updates and photos about the butterflies are posted to the Facebook page, Marshfield Monarchs – The Next Generation.