News Release

April 23, 2015

Photo Download: Kim Savino-1.jpg, Kim Savino-2.jpg

Chicago Zoological Society Inspires National Holiday: “Start Seeing Monarchs Day”

Brookfield, Ill.—Imagine a day dedicated to planting butterfly gardens. The day would include raising awareness about how and what to plant in order to attract the most butterflies, especially monarchs. For years, there has been a steady decline of this winged wonder, which is threatening the balance of nature. The species is in trouble largely due to the loss of milkweed plants, which is the only plant monarch caterpillars feed from.

Thanks to Kim Savino, a student pursuing her master’s degree through the Chicago Zoological Society’s Advanced Inquiry Program, there is now a national holiday dedicated to monarch butterflies. Beginning this year, “Start Seeing Monarchs Day” will be celebrated every year on the first Saturday of May. This initiative is geared to encourage individuals, groups, and whole communities to engage in fun, interactive, and educational activities that call attention to the plight of the monarch.

The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, is working with Savino to bring her goal of planting butterfly gardens to fruition. She is doing this with the help of her mentor and advisor at Brookfield Zoo, Andre Copeland, interpretive programs manager, who is working with her as she pursues her AIP degree. The program is done through on-site classes at the zoo and online collaborations with Miami University of Ohio. One of the requirements of the program is to produce and implement a master plan, which challenges students to put their knowledge from the program into action that benefits the community.

“Kim truly embodies the Chicago Zoological Society’s mission of inspiring conservation leadership. Her passion for this project has been infectious. When she speaks about it, people see how committed she is to helping the species, which encourages them to want to get involved too,” said Copeland. “In addition, she has also listened to feedback and taken advice from staff on how to look at her project in a broader perspective that encompasses the entire nation and not just her local community.

As part of Savino’s master plan, she is working with Copeland to create corridors and waystations throughout the Midwest by collaborating with dozens of organizations, including other zoos, schools, libraries, and civic organizations. She has applied for official monarch butterfly wayfinding stations through, some of which will be planted on Brookfield Zoo’s grounds. The gardens will be populated with milkweed.
“I plan to share what I learn through ongoing research and observations out in the field, within my own community to start, while spreading the word to neighboring communities, one city at a time,” said Savino. “I hope to be able to share my knowledge and understanding with people of all ages, giving presentations and hosting seminars throughout the United States, motivating others to be a part of the solution. This is a lifetime endeavor; it is my goal to ensure that this royal beauty continues to soar, completing its northern and southern migrations as it has in years past. I do not have grandchildren, but someday, when I do, I can't imagine not taking them out to a milkweed patch to search for monarch caterpillars, as my dad did with me,” shared Savino.

On “Start Seeing Monarchs Day,” which will be celebrated this year on Saturday, May 2, Brookfield Zoo will host a fun day of activities for all ages, including making crafts and seed balls in Hamill Family Play Zoo. The clay and dirt balls are mixed with milkweed seeds for visitors to take home and toss in their backyard or any other place where they wish to grow a butterfly garden. Because monarchs will be in their fourth generation of butterflies around the fall months, it is important to take advantage of this opportunity early in the year to begin planting. It is this fourth generation that will eventually migrate south to warmer climates, like Mexico.

This year, to bring more attention to monarchs, Brookfield Zoo’s seasonal Butterflies! habitat will feature more of this species for guests to see and become inspired to create their own milkweed gardens. There will also be interpretive signs in the habitat on the monarch’s plight. One of the zoo’s wayfinding stations will also be located nearby the exhibit with additional signage highlighting the milkweed plant and illustrating how to grow it, why it is important to consider planting it, and why this important plant is disappearing.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The Chicago Zoological Society inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for Brookfield Zoo's innovative, naturalistic, multispecies exhibits and for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. For further information, visit or call (708) 688-8000.


Sondra Katzen
Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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