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Blank Park Zoo Plants Gardens at Capitol to Help Monarch Butterfly Population

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  There's a new garden on the State Capitol grounds, but it's not just there for show.

On Friday, the Blank Park Zoo helped install four new pollinator gardens on the northeast corner of the Capitol grounds. The gardens feature native Iowa flowers that will hopefully attract butterflies and caterpillars. It's part of the zoo's ongoing Plant, Grow, Fly initiative to plant more milkweed and other plants that will hopefully bring back the monarch butterfly population.

"We've been working for a while to try to get some more high-profile pollinator plantings around the city and other urban areas to show people that this is just a demonstration garden. It can be done on any scale, you can even have a pot with the appropriate plants on your back porch that will help support these insects," said Jessie Lowry, conservation manager at the zoo.

Iowa's monarch butterfly population has declined 90% in the last 20 years. "Pesticide drift" from farming operations is blamed for the destruction of much of their native habitat.