Denver Kids

Butterfly Pavilion
By Linda Collison & Bob Russell

Imagine walking into a lush tropical garden with hundreds of butterflies all around you. Some are easy to see. Big and brilliantly colored, they land on your shirt and your hair, thinking you're a flower. Others are tiny or are camouflaged under leaves, and it takes a curious child stooping down to find them.

A stroll through the butterfly pavilion would be worth the price of admission alone. But wait — there's more. An insect room houses live specimens of some of the world's largest and strangest bugs. When we visited, a volunteer let willing onlookers hold a tarantula. Most kids were eager to do this. After making sure everyone else in the room had their chance, Linda gingerly held out her own hand. This spider (like most tarantulas, she learned) was docile toward human beings. It sat quietly in Linda's palm, its furry legs soft against her fingers. In fact, it felt much like holding a kitten.

Outside the pavilion is a large garden featuring indigenous wildflowers. This part of the facilitywas still being developed when we visited, with a short nature trail in progress. If you go in thesummer or early autumn you'll be able to enjoy not only the wildflowers but Colorado's ownbutterflies and other insects who live in the gardens.

The gift shop has a variety of interesting souvenirs for all pocketbooks, from butterfly feeders toplastic scorpions. The book section is particularly good; Linda couldn't resist the Handbookfor Butterfly Watchers by Robert Michael Pyle. There are dozens of children's books,coloring books, and serious field guides covering just about the entire Arthropoda phylum!

Our teenage son Matt had this to say about the pavilion:"Girls seem to love it; it's a great place to go on a date." Make a date with your family — it's something everyone will enjoy.

Where: 6252 West 104th Avenue (Highway 36 and 104th Avenue)
When: Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Activities: See (and sometimes feel!) live butterflies and insects. A fee is charged. Specialprograms and presentations by entomologists and other experts at no additional cost. (Examplesare Butterfly Gardening With Children and Colorado Spiders.) Call for a schedule.
Facilities: Walk-through butterfly habitat, picnic area, gift and book store, restrooms,snack concession. A nature walk is being developed.

© Article copyright Pruett Publishing.


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