California Academy of Sciences Opens New Butterfly Observation Floor in Indoor Rain Forest

Glasses fogged and sweat droplets forming, visitors enter a tropical oasis where biologists are releasing some colorful new additions for a conservation exhibit open to the public Friday.

Above the aquarium, the cafe and current exhibits at the San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences, guests can now explore the undiscovered floor.

The new butterfly observation gallery features a living wall and a look at an array of butterflies and moths at various levels of metamorphosis.

"Butterflies are really special," Tim Wong, a biologist working in the butterfly exhibit said. "They're beautiful, they're diverse and they're also incredibly important.

California Academy of Sciences Unveils Butterfly Observation Deck

The addition completes a sweeping four-level indoor rain forest with 1,600 live plants and animals.

Wong and another biologists released butterflies into the exhibit in preperation for the public opening and estimates they will continue to purchase new species in order to diversify their exhibit to around 500 butterflies. 

In the making for more than a year, scientists and curators have been paying special attention to the origin of the new butterflies as each purchase helps fund conservation efforts by farmers in tropical ecosystems, according to Wong.

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