August 28, 2014
The Butterfly Pavilion
6252 West 104th Ave.
Westminster, CO 80020
hours: 9am-5pm, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
prices: adults=$9.50, Westminster residents and seniors=$7.50, children(2-12)=$6.50, children<2=FREE
The forecast called for showers throughout the day, so Tanya and I chose to visit The Butterfly Pavillion for an indoor activity. The Butterfly Pavillion calls itself "a zoo of small wonders and BIG experience" and boasts over 5,ooo animals. While the majority of animals are butterflies that fly free in a humid dome, the small facility also includes a variety of other creatures to admire.
The entry hall led us to the first room which featured bugs, spiders, and bees. We looked beetles, cockroaches, scorpions, stickbugs and trantulas from around the world with the highlight being Rosie. Rosie was a tarantula that crawled on a zoo keeper's hands. Tanya and I had pepper the young lady with multiple questions before we allowed Rosie to crawl on our hands. First, we wanted to know what it would feel like. "Q-tips," she responded. Just looking at the hairy spider sent chills through my spine. I expressed my fear that I might fling her across the room when she touched me. The young zoo keeper assured us that she would hold our hands. After much convincing, we faced our fear. Despite Rosie being the size of our hand, she hardly weighed a thing! It was so cool, and we even earned a sticker for holding her.
We moved from the bug room, to the room of sea creatures. Though the room was small and featured approximately eight aquariums and two touching pools, I could have stayed in this area for an hour, probably due to my fascination with underwater sea life. As much as I have been SCUBA diving, I was surprised to see such a unique collection of sea life, some species of which I have never seen.
I loved the Fiddler Crab which lives in mangroves on land and not in the water. The male is identified by its large pincer that it waves to court females. Each crab had a tiny pincer it ate with and another large one to attract the females! The aquariums also featured upside down jellyfish, colorful Halloween crabs, amazing sea anemones and corals (many of which were new to me), as well as sea stars and horse shoe crabs to touch.
We moved from the cool, rectangular rooms to the butterfly pavilion which was humid like a rainforest. Orchids and hibiscus along with a selection of blooming flowers attracted countless butterflies. Many flitted one flower to the next. Others perched quietly on trees, vines, and even plates of fruit from which they fed. At first, we walked along the curving sidewalk, spun around, and pointed at the colorful insects as they glided around us. Then we simply stood still and stared into an area. It was amazing how many we could find camouflaged on a tree. Two of them even landed on Tanya.
Signs posted in the gardens reminded us of the life cycle of the butterfly. A butterfly’s egg, generally the size of a period punctuating a sentence lasts for two weeks before it enters the larval stage. The larva, also known as a caterpillar, lasts two to eight weeks before it enters into the pupal stage. The pupal stage is two to four weeks long before the butterfly emerges. A sign describing a few species of butterflies was also posted, though a more descriptive pamphlet to help identify these delicate creatures was available at check in for a $1.
From the gardens, we visited an interactive maze for kids which tested their knowledge on the rainforests and butterfly farms. Every week, the butterfly pavilion buys 600 to 1,000 pupa from butterfly farms located around the world! We learned all sorts of facts about butterflies, including their eating habits and reasons why butterflies lay their eggs on certain plants.
I found the exhibits to be well done and informative and the gift shop was extensive. We spent approximately 2 hours at the facility, from 10:30-12:30 on a week day and shared it with many toddlers. It would be a good place for a kid’s birthday. The Butterfly Pavilion also hosts events such as yoga and “Hoppy Hour” and has a ballroom for any type of corporate meeting space. For more information including membership, visit https://www.butterflies.org/. ETB