Butterfly Pavilion Invertebrate Zoo, Denver, Colorado

Recently, a friend came to visit from Florida. And so, Colorado obliged her by dropping about six inches of snow and very cold temps on us during her second day here. Good thing she loves cold weather! During our time together, we visited Denver’s Butterfly Pavilion, which is a zoo for invertebrates. Invertebrates, of course, have no spine, unlike you, me and the more courageous of our species.

The place is very well run, and the staff is super friendly. For a $12 entry fee (children are $8 and seniors are $10), we had the run of the place for as long as we wanted to stay.

I regret to say that I don’t have one picture of the first room we visited there, the Crawl-A-See-Em, which contained a number of terrariums with wonderful arthropod specimens (insects, spiders, crustaceans). I swore I took some, but I can’t find them anywhere! But it was fun to look at the picture on the top of each tank then search for the live animal inside the glass. The natural wonders of this world are stunning!

My favorite part of this room was the beehive. A tall column housing the bees was stationed next to the windows. There was a clear tube that the bees used to access the outdoors, and it had a clicker where you could see how many bees had gone out that day. When we got there the count was only at 17 because the weather was very cold that day. My favorite part of the beehive was the fact that you could put your ear to a place in the column and actually hear the bees inside! “Hmmmmmmm…..”

The next room, which I don’t have any pictures of either (could have sworn I took some, but they are not on my phone) was the Water’s Edge, an installation of several aquariums with starfish, seahorses, jellyfish, coral and the like. You could touch starfish in one tank, too. Pretty cool.

But then we came to what I think of as the main attraction: the Wings of the Tropics room. This is where all the wonderful butterflies fly around you in a tropical setting:

The plants were labelled as in a botanical garden and there were hundreds of butterflies flying around! They had all their needs fulfilled with feeding stations and such:

And dozens of types of flutterbys surrounded us:

These shots demonstrate the weather outside vs. the tropical environment inside that day:

The air was probably 75 degrees F or so and very humid, compared to the dry Colorado climate. They told us it was actually much cooler than normal inside that day and that’s why the butterflies were congregating on the floor. I’m glad I didn’t go in mid-summer!

It’s supposed to be good luck for one of the butterflies to land on you. Well, I wasn’t so lucky, but one did graze me as it flew by. I’m counting it.

Here are some more lovely specimens:

They also had an arachnid gazebo in one corner where I photographed this:

There was also a cage with these giant guys inside – they were as big as your hand! I think they were katydids.

And there was actually one vertebrate resident, this ring-necked dove who walked around checking everything out:

I never discovered why this bird lived in there, though.

One of the most fascinating displays was the cocoon/chrysalis cabinet. They buy cocoons and chrysalises from butterfly farms in South America and then hang them in this case with proper temps and humidity:

If you watch for a few minutes, you’ll see new butterflies and moths being born! Then they hang there for a few minutes to dry their wings:

Once in the late afternoon, a staff member does a little presentation and releases the newest butterflies into the tropical room:

Here, have some more butterflies:

On the way out, we went back to the Crawl-A-See-Em to hold Rosie the Tarantula. Wow, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but it was easy. A staff member holds your hand and places the spider in  your palm for just a few seconds. Rosie is very, very lightweight and her feet are just a tad sticky. I think she liked me.

Eventually we saw everything, including the wonderful gift shop, and made our way back outside to the winter. One of the mascots of the place is this giant praying mantis, who didn’t look too pleased with the snow that day:

Photo for No Apparent Reason:

2 thoughts on “Butterfly Pavilion Invertebrate Zoo, Denver, Colorado”

  1. How beautiful! One of my fondest memories is going butterfly hunting in the Hill Country of Texas with the gentleman who is listed as Consulting Lepidopterist for the National Audubon Society guide to North American Butterflies. Great fun!!!

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