Butterfly Bar Fine JewelrythedropLA@barneys, Day 1, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, USA - 02 Jun 2018

BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE: Anyone who hopes to get up close and personal with a Monarch butterfly at a Barneys New York store better search for one on a milkweed plant instead.

As part of the Drop @ Barneys event in Los Angeles last month, the retailer brought live butterflies to an exhibit promoting its exclusive fine-jewelry collection.

Customers and employees — the store posted a video on Facebook and sent out photos on Twitter — were invited to interact with the insects during the event at the Beverly Hills store in June.

But that was before PETA came calling.

In a letter to Barneys’ chief executive officer Daniella Vitale, Jennifer Behr, corporate liaison for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the organization had received reports “that there were many dead and dying butterflies languishing around the display area, behind plants and in plant beds.” Others had escaped from the display and were found flying around outside. Their fate is unknown.

PETA said butterflies used for public displays are either wild-caught or captive-bred and often shipped flattened in envelopes or in small boxes and don’t survive the journey.

According to PETA, Vitale said using animals is not part of Barneys’ strategy, and vowed the retailer will not use any live animals in events or exhibits going forward. She also agreed to make a donation to the organization as a form of apology.

Barneys did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday, but Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of PETA, said: “PETA frequently hears from horrified guests at weddings and other events where live-butterfly displays have ended in the insects’ deaths. By banning butterflies and all other live animals from its events, Barneys New York is setting an example of compassion for all retailers to follow.”