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Publication and Press Releases
2014
April
Space Museum's latest Omnimax film unveils secrets of the mass migratory journey of monarch butterflies
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     The Hong Kong Space Museum's latest Omnimax show, "Flight of the Butterflies", to be screened from May 1 until October 31, will allow audiences to follow the amazing mass migratory journey of North America's monarch butterflies, as well as to witness the sight of millions of these butterflies clustering together.

     Each autumn, millions of monarch butterflies fly 3 000 kilometres from Canada across the United States to a distant and remote hideaway in Mexico to stay for winter. For many years nobody knew the exact location of their winter habitat. Beginning back in the 1940s, Canadian zoologist Dr Fred Urquhart and his wife used various means to track the migratory route of the monarchs in the hope of discovering their final destination. Forty years later, with the help of a pair of amateur naturalists in Mexico, they finally found a huge number of monarchs on a mountain near Mexico City.

     The show centres on the true story of how Dr Urquhart and his wife searched almost unrelentingly for the overwintering site of the monarchs over a period of 40 years. In addition, the film follows the amazing flight of a monarch butterfly, allowing the audience to witness how it overcomes all sorts of difficulties and dangerous environments to pass on, from one generation to the next, the goal of finishing one of the longest migratory journeys on the planet.

     This migratory journey takes at least three generations to complete, and each generation must survive through the stages of egg, caterpillar, pupa and adult butterfly. In order to follow the monarchs, Dr Urquhart and his wife tested various methods of tagging the butterflies. They also formed the Insect Migration Association to recruit volunteers. By the 1960s, they had over 4 000 helpers, who were known as "citizen scientists", joining in the great butterfly hunt.

     In 1976, Dr Urquhart found the first monarch butterfly bearing one of his tags at the remote mountain location in Mexico. This was indisputable proof of the butterfly's mass migratory journey, and an age-old scientific mystery was finally resolved. In 2008 the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Mexico were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

     The 44-minute show will be screened daily at 3.50pm and 7.20pm at the museum's Stanley Ho Space Theatre. Additional show will be screened at 12.20pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The museum is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays).

     Tickets are available at the Hong Kong Space Museum Box Office and at URBTIX for $24 (front stalls) and $32 (stalls). Full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above and people with disabilities are eligible for a half-price concession. For further information about the film, please visit the website at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Museum/Space/Programs/Omnimax/FlightoftheButterflies/e_FlightoftheButterflies.htm  .

     The Hong Kong Space Museum is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. For enquiries, please call 2721 0226.

Ends/Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:00

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Tens of thousands of monarch butterflies cluster on tree trunks for warmth and protection in winter, living off their fat reserves until spring.

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The film follows Dana, a monarch butterfly, and her "daughter" and "granddaughter", allowing the audience to witness how one generation succeeds another in accomplishing a remarkable feat of migration.

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Dr Fred Urquhart was the first scientist to place tags on butterflies in order to track them.

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Less than 1 per cent of the eggs and caterpillars of monarch butterflies will survive to become butterflies. Most caterpillars will become food for birds and insects.

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After receiving reports on the whereabouts of the tagged butterflies from different places, Dr Urquhart was able to plot their flight route on a map.

 

 

 

 

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