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Butterflies, Bees, and Tarantulas Create a Living Planet Experience. The Butterfly Pavilion located between Denver and Boulder is a giant nature capsule featuring interactive, screen-free experiences for families and showcasing small wonders and their connections to the real world.
Denver Butterfly Museum Tarantula Discovery
Last week while browsing the butterfly pavilion at the Texas Discovery Gardens I met Kevin an energetic eight-year-old and his grandfather while we were all watching the transformation of a chrysalis (or pupa) to butterfly. During our observation time I learned about the Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado which the both agreed was a must-see, not just for the butterflies but for Rosie – the Tarantula.
Here’s the scoop. The Butterfly Pavilion complex is home to more than 5,000 animals, small in size but essential to a healthy planet.  The 30,000-square-foot tropical ark is home to butterflies, bees, bugs and marine life. The engaging exhibits demonstrate the benefits of insects, aquatic creatures, moths and butterflies. While the facility is geared to families with children ages two to 12, it offers fascinating experiences for any age.Denver Butterfly Museum Pupa Wall
Wings of the Tropics, the 7,000- square-foot butterfly pavilion, is populated by as many as 1,600 free-flying butterflies. The butterfly residents include not just indigenous species but also an array of sizes and colors imported from around the globe. You are sure to see at least one blue morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides), the master of disguise, and maybe the beautiful black and white papilio (Papilio demodocus) from Africa.  At the butterfly nursery it is possible to watch butterflies emerging from their chrysalides and twice a day visitors have the chance to watch the staff release the new butterflies into the pavilion’s rainforest habitat.

Denver Butterfly Pavilion Giant BeetleOne of the most exciting experiences for many and definitely memorable is the chance to meet and hold Rosie the Tarantula, a Chilean rose-hair and queen of the pavilion complex. Tarantulas are critical to the health of the planet and because several tarantula species are considered threatened or endangered, the Butterfly Pavilion has a tarantula-breeding program. Here’s a hint. Tarantulas eat roaches, mosquitoes and other annoying insects.
August 22nd is National Honey Bee Day, a day set aside to focus on the purpose of bees some of the most important invertebrates. Pavilion staff members have both questions and answers for visitors. Did you know that one out of every three bites of food is possible because of pollination provided by bees?  Did you know that Colorado is home to over 900 species of bees? Did you know that bee populations are declining?  To understand the complexity of the Earth’s natural web one need only observes the behind-the scenes work of a bee hive. Luckily, the Pavilion has a working bee hive which allows visitors to get an inside view and to watch the workers, and drones as they surround and protect the queen.
The 11-acre complex includes the outdoor Dee Lidvall Discovery Garden with an amphitheater, pesticide-free habitats, sensory and xeriscape gardens, two gazebos, a patio, and a water feature with natural filtration. The garden, nature trail and pavilion create natural synergy making it easier to understand the importance of earth-friendly programs and policies. The Discovery Garden includes a butterfly garden planted with flowers to attract local butterflies and bees.

Denver Butterfly Pavilion Blue MorphoAbout the Butterfly Pavilion: Founded in July 1995, as the first stand-alone non-profit invertebrate zoo in the nation, Butterfly Pavilion is an AZA accredited 30,000 square foot facility situated on an 11-acre campus provided by the City of Westminster, Colorado.  The mission of the Butterfly Pavilion is to foster an appreciation of butterflies and other invertebrates while educating the public about the need for conservation of threatened habitats in the tropics and around the world.

Location on the planet: 6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster, CO 80020 just 20 minutes north of Denver and 20 minutes south of Boulder in Colorado.

Make it happen.  Butterfly Pavilion (303) 469-5441 or 

If Denver is not on your radar screen at the moment there is an excellent family-friendly website which features butterflies and provides information in not just English but also French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images provided by Butterfly Pavilion. Copyright 2018.  

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