San Diego Zoo Now Has the Rarest Insect on Earth
If you want to see the rarest insect on Earth, you can now do that at the San Diego Zoo thanks to more than a decade of hard work by conservationists.
The rarest insect on Earth is actually the Lord Howe Island stick insect, which is sometimes known as the “tree lobster.” They’re large, flightless, and nocturnal creatures native to Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia.
Scientists once believed that the Lord Howe Island stick insect was extinct because of predation by invasive rat populations on Lord Howe Island. Recently, however, a few one of the rarest insect on Earth were found on a nearby islet called Ball’s Pyramid.
Now, for the first time in North America, you can see the Lord Howe Island stick insect on display in a specialized habitat at the San Diego Zoo. More specifically, the insect is being housed at the Wildlife Explorers Basecamp.
The very fact that you can see the rarest insect on Earth in North America is thanks to more than a decade of work between the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s entomology team and the Melbourne Zoo in Australia.
“We are honored to partner with Zoos Victoria on the conservation of the Lord Howe Island stick insect and beyond thrilled to be finally able to share these animals with our guests,” said Paige Howorth, McKinney Family director of invertebrate care and conservation, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
The collaborative breeding program is just part of an ongoing conservation effort to conserve the rarest insect on Earth, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said in a press release.
It’s not just the tree lobsters that might return to Lord Howe Island, either. Thanks to a rat eradication effort, many species once believed extinct are beginning to reappear on the island.
The Lord Howe Island stick insect is not the only rare or endangered animal on display in San Diego. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, guests can also experience the white rhino — a critically endangered species that the Wildlife Alliance to working to save from extinction.
Media credit: Image courtesy of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance