Representatives from 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change Friday, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, marking a major milestone on Earth Day.
Closer to home, the staff at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo celebrated Earth Day on Saturday, showing visitors that everyone can have a role in conservation and ecology.
Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin talked about the life cycle of monarch butterflies, and invited children to take home milkweed seeds to plant. Milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat before turning into butterflies. Monarch butterflies only lay eggs on milkweed plants, which is another reason it is vital for the species. In the last 15 years, monarch butterflies’ population has declined dramatically, primarily due to habitat loss.
Hamlin cut a cardboard egg carton into smaller sections, handed them to children and invited them get a scoop of soil from a bucket next to her table. As one girl placed the dirt in her cardboard container and reached for some milkweed seeds, her mother asked what she was doing.
“Saving butterflies,” was the answer.
““Egg cartons are biodegradable,” Hamlin explained, “so you can plant those right in the ground.”
Inside the Raptor Center, more children were coloring flowers as they learned about bees. There were also crafts and a scavenger hunt.
Fliers posted in front of some animal exhibits contained bits of information about Earth Day: The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. It was recognized worldwide by 1990. Other fliers offered simple energy saving tips such as, “Turn off lights in rooms that are not being used.”