Monarchs and milkweed pollinator habitat project header

Monarchs & Milkweed Pollinator Habitat Project

Project Mission Statement  
The Louisville Zoo strives to become the leader for monarch butterfly conservation in the region by empowering citizens and organizations to support the development and protection of critical habitat for monarch butterflies and other native pollinators.

Vision Statement
Monarch butterflies go through the process of metamorphosis during their life cycle and are an inspirational ambassador and catalyst for change and growth!  Through education about the natural history of the monarch butterfly, the project will provide an opportunity for people to develop a connection with nature through habitat development and conservation, and thus, help to fulfill the Louisville Zoo’s Mission “to better the bond between people and our planet.”

Monarchs butterflies are in decline. Why?
The leading cause of the population decline of monarch butterflies has been the continuous loss of habitat since the 1960’s. In the U.S., this is due to the conversion of habitat into agricultural land, the use of herbicides to remove milkweed plants, and pesticides to control other insects that destroy agricultural crops. Monarchs require milkweed plants to complete their life cycle for their caterpillars to feed on, as well as other native plants that are a food source for providing nectar for adult butterflies.

About the Project
The project started in 2020 when the Louisville Zoo became a member of the AZA SAFE North American Monarch Butterfly Program, however the Louisville Zoo has been active in monarch butterfly conservation since 2016 when we opened our Butterflies ‘n Blooms native butterfly exhibit and hosted our very first Flutter Fest event, which celebrates the monarch butterfly and its annual fall migration. The monarch butterfly was added to the AZA SAFE program in 2019 as the continuing population decline raised awareness about the need for action to protect this threatened species.

What organizations are focused on monarch conservation?
Two of the premiere organizations are Monarch Watch, and Monarch Joint Venture.

What can WE do to take action for monarch butterfly conservation?
Develop or upgrade an existing habitat by planting milkweed and other native plant species for monarchs and other native pollinators, as well as support overall biodiversity and ecological health.

Our Community Partners who have committed to monarch butterfly conservation are:

Bellarmine University

Brooklawn Seven Counties Services

Centre College

Northeast Regional Library

Purdue Technology Center of Southeast Indiana

Seven Counties Services

Shirley’s Arbor Park

Slaughter Elementary



Interested in becoming a Community Partner?

Meet Our Partners

These organizations have partnered with the Zoo to create a monarch butterfly habitat at their locations to support our conservations efforts!

Meet our partners…

More About Monarchs

Why are monarchs so special? Ever wonder why monarch butterflies are bright orange or what happens to them during winter? Curious about why they rely on milkweed or how long they live? Answers to all these questions and more can be found by clicking below!

Monarch butterflies…