When an ARK’s landscaper was about to remove milkweeds (a certain type of plant) growing on the side of The ARK, assuming they were unwelcomed weeds, Donna Bungo quickly jumped into action and advised the landscaper that the plants were milkweeds, which are a critical food resource for monarch butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

Milkweeds are also where caterpillars begin their metamorphosis from cocoons into vibrant monarch butterflies to complete the circle of life. In addition, New York City is also on the migration path that monarch butterflies take, traveling from Mexico to Canada each year and the plant is ultimately a sanctuary and resting area for the butterflies during their journey.

“They’re in a hurry to eat as much as they can before it’s time to close up and begin their metamorphosis. I was excited this morning when I saw so many caterpillars enjoying our location at The ARK.

The excitement is growing as we anticipate the cocoons and hopefully some very beautiful new butterflies ready to take their place in the circle of life and next year’s population”

Donna Bungo is an Animal Handler at The ARK at JFK’s Pet Oasis, who has handled a wide range of animals in-transit at the world’s first privately-owned animal reception terminal and quarantine including dogs, cats, sloths, capybaras, pot-bellied pigs, ferrets and many others.

Along with the whole staff at The ARK at JFK, Donna is a highly trained animal handler and had an early love for all animals at a young age. In addition to working at The ARK’s Pet Oasis, she most recently rescued an unexpected population of monarch butterflies that was discovered on the 14.4-acre facility. Now, Donna is unofficially dubbed as “The ARK’s Butterfly Enthusiast and Wildlife Rehabilitator.” Originally hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Donna lives in Astoria, Queens.

Photos Courtesy of The Ark at JFK/Joanne O’Connell

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