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Monarch butterflies migrating from Grand Rapids to Mexico | Pets

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Monarch butterflies migrating from Grand Rapids to Mexico
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Grand Rapids, MI (WZZM) - About 250 Monarch butterflies are on the way to Mexico from Grand Rapids.

"It takes them months," says John Ball Zoo education director Andy McIntyre.

The butterflies were released from John Ball Park Zoo Sunday so they can begin the 2,500 mile migration.  They are completing the yearly cycle that began last spring when the Monarchs in Mexico started moving north. The release at the zoo was an opportunity for children to learn about the butterfly's life cycle and launch the insects on their long journey south.

"It kept on tickling me and it wouldn't get off my hand," says 10 year old Emauri Tolbert, who offered his palm as a launch pad. "It wouldn't get off it."

 "It was really cool to watch it fly away," says 11 year old Maddy Lewitt. "You know you never get to really have a butterfly in your hand."

Scientists say the Monarch is the only butterfly that migrates. How they find their way is a mystery.

"They have never been there before," says Grand Rapids Community College zoology professor Dr. Matthew Douglas. "How do you do that? How do you fly to a place you have never been?"

Michigan Butterflies provided most of the Monarchs released at the zoo. The company raises the insects for educational purposes and special occasions. Company owner Holli Ward says she never tires of seeing the beautiful butterfly emerge from its chrysalis cocoon.

"We have seen it a million times and every times is just as exciting as it was before," she says.

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