Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fresh Sheet – May 25, 2013

If you’re attending the Northwest Folklife Festival this Memorial Day weekend, why not stop by Pacific Science Center? Be sure to visit the relaxing oasis that is our Tropical Butterfly House and see what’s emerging.

El Salvador

09 - Archeoprepona demophoon (Hubner’s Prepona)
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
25 - Catonephele numilia (Halloween Butterfly)
10 - Eurytides thymbraeus
10 - Hamadryas amphinome (Red Calico)
25 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
10 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
10 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
25 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
25 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
15 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
30 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
20 - Morpho polyphemus (Small White Morpho)
25 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
10 - Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio pilumnus (Three-tailed Swallowtail)
20 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
10 - Parides montezuma (Montezuma Cattleheart)
20 - Prepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
10 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
10 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 374


12 - Athyma perius (Common Sergeant)
10 - Catopsilia pyranthe (Mottled Emigrant)
10 - Cethosia biblis (Red Lacewing)
30 - Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing)
10 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime)
11 - Doleschalia bisaltide (Autumn Leaf)
10 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
10 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon)
20 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
10 - Junonia almana (Peacock Pansy)
10 - Junonia lemonias (Lemon Pansy)
10 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
30 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
10 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
10 - Parthenos sylvia lilacinus (Blue Clipper)
10 - Parthenos sylvia violaceae (Violet Clipper)
10 - Tirumala limniace (Blue Tiger)
10 - Troides rhadamantus plateni (Platen’s Birdwing)

Total = 251

Grand Total = 625

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Local Lepidoptera

With spring in full glory, we will start seeing butterflies and moths outside as well as in our Tropical Butterfly House. In fact, just the other day Animal Caretaker Chris Russell found a gorgeous specimen of the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) right here on Pacific Science Center's campus.

The Polyphemus moth may seem too big (4”- 6”) and fancy to be native here, but the Pacific Northwest (as well as most of the United States ) is its home. Although we’ve had Polyphemus moths in our Tropical Butterfly House in the past, Chris quickly identified the specimen, took a photograph and then released it.

Look around your garden and you may also spot Western Tiger Swallowtail and Red Admiral butterflies.
 These are the species that Animal Care gets the most calls about from concerned folks who are worried that a butterfly escaped from our exhibit. We appreciate the public’s alertness and attention to possible escapees. In fact, part of why we keep our tropical butterfly species strictly contained is to protect these lovely native species.

So if you see moths and butterflies when you are out and about the spring and summer, just say “Hi” and let them fly!

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fresh Sheet – May 18, 2013

Ever wonder what’s going on inside a pupa as a caterpillar turns into a butterfly? Scientists are now able to make 3-D scans of butterfly chrysalises during metamorphosis. Click on the link. No glasses required!

Costa Rica

10 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
28 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
58 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
06 - Eryphanis polyxena (Purple Mort Bleu Owl)
16 - Greta oto (Glasswing)
87 - Hamadryas laodamia (Starry Calico)
15 - Heliconius cydno (Cydno Longwing)
74 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
88 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
52 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
40 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
30 - Myscelia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)

Total = 504

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More Animal Enrichment

Life Sciences staff recently added several more enrichment activities to our Reptile, Amphibian and Mammal (RAM) Zone exhibits. While a lot of thought and research go into developing enrichment activities, the results are sometimes best expressed through pictures.

Naked Mole Rats

In our attempts to expand our chamber system to new heights (literally!) we have run across the problem of them being unable to scurry up their tubes when they are at steep angles. The solution? A specially designed Naked Mole Rat Ladder! With this new corrugated tube, they should be able to more easily explore their developing second story.

Al’la’shuk the Western Painted Turtle

Al’la’shuk (or Ali for short) has successfully made it through his low-energy winter period and is ready for spring! In order to take advantage of his newly acquired energy, we gave him some companions to chase around. While no fish were harmed during the making of the following video, Ali has great potential to bring out his hunting instincts and potentially gulp down a fish or two. So far, these fish are definitely giving him a run for his money!

Lydia the Leopard Gecko

Lydia is one of our longest-lived animals here at Pacific Science Center, and in her old age has deserved some MAJOR spoiling. But what’s the best way to spoil a leopard gecko? We think that a personal mani/pedi spa is just the trick with a nice bathtub to match. As recommended by Dr. Maas, occasional baths will help keep her hydrated while also allowing her pesky toe sheds to come off easily and prevent her from having any issues that come with shed build up!

We continue to work hard to develop enrichment activities for all of our animals here. So keep tuned and see what the spring time has to offer for all of them!

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fresh Sheet – May 11, 2013

There is a lot of excitement this week in our Tropical Butterfly House! In addition to the blooming Corpse Plant and the amorously emerging Atlas Moths, we have over six hundred newly arrived pupae from Suriname and El Salvador.


20 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
40 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
15 - Heraclides thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
40 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
06 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
40 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
40 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded Shoemaker)
40 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
19 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
40 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 270

El Salvador

25 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
25 - Catonephele numilia (Halloween Butterfly)
20 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
10 - Eurytides thymbraeus
15 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
07 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
25 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
40 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
20 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
20 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
10 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio garamas(Magnificent Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio pilumnus (Three-tailed Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
10 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
25 - Prepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
15 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
12 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 334

Grand Total = 604
“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring Awakening

Amid the smell of death, some moths are working on new life.

Spring has come to the Tropical Butterfly House, and with spring here, the smell of rotting corpses is not far behind. Our corpse plant, Amorphophallus bulbifer, is looking beautiful and getting ready to smell really bad. “Pinky” last bloomed in April 2011 followed by “Corpse Plant #2” a few weeks later.

Guests beware: Plan extra time in your visit because – believe it or not – people love this thing and the unmistakable odor it brings. Last time our corpse plant bloomed, a local television station stopped by for a sniff! Take a look.

Meanwhile, we are having a run of Atlas moths (Atticus atlas). The giant cocoons of these moths have been visible in our emerging window since January. At last, the adult moths are making an appearance. And what an appearance it is! This morning, staff found two Atlas moths together working on the next generation.

Although Pacific Science Center’s permit from the Untied States Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly regulates our ability to display caterpillars in the exhibit, the two moths shown above seem to have not read those regulations! Fortunately for their offspring, we are allowed to keep caterpillars in an enclosed container in an inspected part of the exhibit. With good fortune and good care, we may be displaying the atlas moths’ caterpillars in a few months in our emerging window. This could be a rare chance to watch them making their cocoons.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring Vet Visit

It’s always a big deal when the vet visit rolls around. Recently Dr. Maas of The Center for Bird & Exotic Animal Medicine arrived with his big house-call cart. He is always prepared if any of the animals need tests or cultures done on them on site. Because our vet’s time is valuable, we want to make the most of it. So, Animal Care prepared all our questions before he arrived, and went through them one by one while he was there.

Our mood was a bit somber the day Dr. Maas arrived. We had just lost an animal – Zea the corn snake – unexpectedly. We were glad the visit had already been scheduled to give us a chance to see if any other problems might emerge. As we went through each area of the Reptile/Amphibian/Mammal (RAM) Zone, Dr. Maas addressed all our concerns about each group of animals.

Here are our notes:

Naked mole rats

All colony members appeared to be in good weight. The colony has no “skinny guy” or weakest individual. The colony’s behavior is more cooperative and less agonistic than in past visits. This behavior could be due to the enrichment we’ve added to keep them busy and/or the lowering of the colony’s ambient temperature. This lower temperature of the colony may be moving individuals out of a reproductive phase and into a maintenance phase which would entail less fighting for position.


One axolotl has been floating near the surface of the tank much of the time. Dr. Maas observed micro-bubbles in the water and said the most likely, and quite common, cause of floating in aquatic animals was from over aeration in the water. He noticed that our filter was discharging water from over six inches above the waterline, adding an unnecessary amount of air to the tank. Dr. Maas suggested that we either break the velocity of the filtered water as it falls into the tank or raise the water level in the tank. This was done and the floating problems of the axolotl was diminishing within 24 hours.


Overall the turtle looks great. His scutes (shell plates or scales) are healthy and will pick up color as he outgrows his past health problems. Previously he had trouble shedding his scales. Now Ali has no retained scales!

We discussed feeding and Dr. Maas made two general recommendations: Replace food every six months to prevent deterioration of the vitamins and consider live prey. We are currently discussing pros and cons of live food. Stay tuned. We will keep our readers informed.

Leopard gecko

Lydia’s skin is not fully shedding from her feet. Dr. Maas instructed us to make a shallow, tepid water bath for her, to which we add a small amount of dish soap to help wet her skin. Soak her for ten minutes, and then gently remove the softened skin deposits from her toes. Repeat only if necessary.

Boa constrictors

Estella looks good, but is still slightly heavy. What we are doing, feeding her smaller portions, is helping her weight control. Any handling of the boas is all for the good as well. Another suggested activity is to put her on her tree and let her slither down?

Esteban looks good and is of a good weight. His scar from a recent operation is very well healed and is barely visible. Dr. Maas noted that Estrella looks good as well. Come see a snake presentation. You will be helping our snakes stay active and healthy!

Corn snakes

Nacho looks great. He has good weight, good color, no observable problems. He has clearly been handled regularly from a very young age. Because holding on with the tail is something corn snakes mostly learn from handling rather than instinctively, Nacho is well-adjusted to people.

Tillamook was very close to shedding and Dr. Maas only gave him a visual exam. He has been rejecting food but not enough to be of concern – yet. We should monitor his eating. Skipping meals is fairly normal in winter for snakes, and normal pre-shed, but as it gets to late spring we should note if his appetite does not return to normal.

Zea’s remains were taken back to the clinic for necropsy. Gross necropsy results did not conclude anything unusual.

A meeting with a veterinarian can be stressful for the animals and having so many animals examined is a workout for all of us. But we ended the session feeling upbeat about the health of our collection and the quality of our husbandry procedures. We are also more confident that our loss of Zea does not reflect a poor prognosis for the rest of the collection.

Read more!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fresh Sheet – May 4, 2013

This week’s shipment of beautiful butterflies-to-be comes from the Philippines. Come see over 500 more Lepidoptera now emerging at our Tropical Butterfly House.


31 - Cethosia biblis (Red Lacewing)
67 - Doleschalia bisaltide (Autumn Leaf)
30 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
40 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon)
100 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
12 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
85 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
80 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
57 - Parthenos sylvia philippensis (The Clipper)

Total = 502

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy Anniversary PacSciLife

In celebration of our fourth year of Life Sciences blogging, we have a caption contest for our readers. Although we are calling this a “contest,” the only prize will be the people’s ovation and fame forever!

Animal Caretaker, Lauren Bloomenthal, took today’s featured photograph of our popular leopard gecko, Lydia.

So what is Lydia thinking in the above photograph? Please comment below.

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