MCALLEN, Texas – Mayor Javier Villalobos has unveiled a mural by artist Irving Cano’s at Quinta Mazatlán World Birding Center.

The mural celebrates McAllen’s dedication to the conservation of the Monarch butterfly in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation.

Since 2015 McAllen, Texas has committed to the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge to create and restore vital monarch butterfly habitat and aid in the protection of this unique, at-risk species. 

To date, McAllen has restored more than six acres of monarch habitat and engaged and educated nearly 150,000 people on monarch butterfly conservation – among other initiatives and events.

“We are here today to honor a seven year partnership with the National Wildlife Federation,” said Colleen Curran Hook, executive director of Quinta Mazatlán. “Not only are we painting blank walls with monarch art, but we are also planting empty fields with native flowers around the city of McAllen. This conservation work is very important to the city of McAllen.”

Irving Cano, a Oaxaca based renowned artist, says the project “could not have been possible” without the support of both the City of McAllen and the National Wildlife Federation.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my essence, my artwork with the city of McAllen,” said Cano. “With the invitation, I was about to know and work on a project about the conservation of the monarch butterfly. It was a wonderful experience, and it was a challenge never presented to me before, to know about the monarch butterfly.”

Mayor Villalobos said the National Wildlife Federation Mayors Pledge is important to the City of McAllen. He said he hopes other leaders will follow the example of McAllen in pursuing a proactive approach to restoring monarch habitat, such as planting milkweed. He said he hopes the mural spreads awareness to the general public.

“I’m hoping people can see through the art and the beauty of nature and that it may keep on instilling the importance of not only protecting human life but wildlife,” said Mayor Villalobos. “It is a beautiful mural, it represents the beauty of the interaction of human beings and nature. It is beautiful. I just wish we had more.”

Rebeca Quiñonez-Piñón, National Wildlife Federation’s chief monarch recovery specialist, said the mural is a great milestone along the way in leaving a long-term indication of the great work the federation has been doing with the city of McAllen.

“We would like the public to be inspired by this mural and have the opportunity to learn more about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and learning about its migration that the eastern monarch butterfly does every single year. And also to learn about the struggle the monarch is going through due to the lack of native habitat, heavy use of pesticides, and climate change,” Quiñonez-Piñón said.

“The monarch is an umbrella species; it tells us how other pollinators are struggling. The monarch butterfly is a great indicator, and we need to start paying attention. If the monarch butterfly is struggling, others are struggling too.”

Despite the trials faced by the monarch butterfly, Quinonez-Pinon has great hope for the future.

“The mural is another great milestone for us to leave a long-term dedication. The mural inspires hope for us. It is also a way for us to represent the struggle of the monarch butterfly and the migration and also at the same time their resilience through these years despite all the threats the monarch has been facing.”

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