Texas zoo welcomes giant insect

May 22, 2011 at 3:38 PM
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SAN ANTONIO, May 22 (UPI) -- The San Antonio Zoo says a new addition -- an elephant beetle that lives up to its name in size -- is only the second of its kind found in U.S. zoos.

Horticulture curator Martin Feather and a colleague from a Missouri zoo caught two male specimens of the Megasoma elephas in their native rainforest habitat of Costa Rica, where they feast on rotting fruit and oozing tree sap.

The San Antonio and Missouri zoos are engaged in an ongoing research project with the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly Conservancy and El Bosque Nuevo butterfly farm in Costa Rica, the San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday.

"There's a demand from insect zoos in the United States for animals like this," Feather said.

The goal is to collect specimens and repopulate the Costa Rica facility and San Antonio and Missouri zoos through a captured breeding program.

"Kids in particular are fascinated by them," Feather said. "It's kind of big, weird and freaky, and children like that."

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