Even a single swallowtail is a rare spot in the wild. But we’ve got big plans for our largest and most gorgeous wetland butterflies. And Mark Boardman, our Head of Living Collections, has just had some encouraging news…

As part of our project to create a Living Wetland Theatre and Aviary, we’re hoping that visitors will enjoy exploring our British Butterfly pop-up. These beautiful insects share so much of our world with us, from wetlands and farmland to back gardens, and watching them up close is a great way to understand their amazing adaptations and behaviour.

For the pop-up exhibit to work, we need to know that we can care for swallowtails on site. And this week, we found out that our first swallowtails had hatched successfully – much to the delight of Jay Redbond, our Living Collections Supervisor, who is taking care of them. It’s out of Jay’s usual comfort zone as he is more used to taking care of our amphibians. His success is another boost for our Slimbridge 2020 plan.

Swallowtails are the only purely wetland butterfly in the UK, and they’re getting rarer as more of their habitat is lost to drainage and development. We’d love these beautiful creatures to become a more common sight in the English countryside. Our hope is that visitors to our future exhibit will get inspired to create butterfly-friendly habitats at home, and learn spotting skills that they can use in the wild.

We are planning to show visitors the swallowtails over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. It will be a real treat for them and us!