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The Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens is located in Hilo, Hawaii and is open every day except Christmas and New Year's from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


For more information call (808) 959-9233.

What's New at the Zoo

What’s new at the Zoo (June 2018)

by Dolores Coulson, Editor


Butterflies at the  Zoo


In spite of all the rain we had in March & April, there was plenty of evidence that spring was in the air. Not only were the flowers all in bloom - and Sacred Ibis babies being born, and baby peacocks running around, and many other baby chicks appearing - but also our monarch butterflies were in their glory inside their Butterfly House.


The monarch butterfly is a familiar visitor to our gardens.  They arrived in the Hawaii islands around 1850, shortly after the introduction of their host plants, tropical milkweed and the crown flower.  They are capable of flying thousands of miles, and are well known for their migration from the mainland US to Mexico during the fall. They have even been known to cross the Atlantic ocean.  They live wherever they find their host plants and nectar plants, which a3ract and feed the adult bu3erflies.  Predators of the adult monarch bu3erfly in Hawaii include the two  bulbul bird species -  the red-vented and the red-whiskered  -  and some wasps. Spiders and ants may attack the eggs.


Butterflies undergo complete metamorphosis, in which there are four distinct stages: egg, caterpillar (larvae), pupa (chrysalis) and butterfly (adult).  The process from egg to bu3erfly is weather dependent and also depends on the regional climate.  In Hawaii it can take about four weeks for the monarch to go through the stages from egg to adult.   Females lay their eggs on the underside of young milkweed leaves.  The caterpillars  consume the milkweed, which benefits their health.


Butterflies are beneficial to the environment through the symbiotic relationship they maintain with the plants they visit and their preferences for organic, native habitats.  Although the larval caterpillar will eat its host, a well established milkweed plant can handle the caterpillars’ eating frenzy.



This website is paid for and managed by “Friends of the Pana'ewa Zoo.” Friends of the Pana'ewa Zoo is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, which is not affiliated with the County of Hawai'i. The official County website can be found at