For the most part zoos make their big bucks off of mammals. They are cute and cuddly and are huge draws for the regular visitor coming to the zoo. I hope through my animal ‘Features’ I can encourage you to also stop and look at some other species you might not have considered before. Butterflies are one of those exhibits that people often overlook because they are animals that are seen fairly often in the wild or visitors are in a rush to see the ‘main attractions’. These people are missing out!
There are over 15 000 species of butterflies in the world, with more being discovered frequently. With this amount of diversity, a butterfly exhibit or conservatory can have so much variety in size and colour. Every time you visit you could potentially see a variation you haven’t seen before. An abundance of flowers are always present within their exhibits as this is most butterflies main source of food – nectar and/or pollen. Due to their oasis style enclosures which tend to be a walk through style, they are perfect for amateur and professional photographers. Also, butterflies are great in multiple species habitats which means zoos often have birds and/or fish on display within the same enclosure.
Butterflies are fascinating in many ways, but perhaps the most intriguing is their life cycle. Every butterfly exhibit I have been to also has an area displaying different stages of butterfly growth and development. This is a wonderful learning opportunity for young ones, and a perfect introduction to the fascinating world of insects and biology.
Butterflies are universally captivating. I have witnessed delight on children’s faces when finally their patience pays off and a butterfly lands on their arm; and I have seen calm enjoyment shared by an elderly couple relaxing on a bench watching them flutter around them. I hope next time you visit a zoo or conservatory you are able to have a moment like that, and can appreciate some of the beautiful butterflies from around the world.