Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Butterfly Conservatory

One of the newest exhibits at the Henry Doorly Zoo, is the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion. According to the zoo’s website,if you were to view the building from the sky, it looks like a winged insect. Outside are a few really cool butterfly sculptures.


The main feature of the pavilion is the Conservation Promenade. It is a walkway through a room filled with trees, waterfalls, flowers, and all sorts of beautiful plants. The main attraction of this room is the chance to walk among hundreds of butterflies. To get into the room, you have to first go into a smaller room, where a zoo employee explains the rules: Don’t touch or grab the butterflies, don’t let them ride on you when you leave, etc. Then they open the door and let you in. They don’t specify this, but the I’m sure that the small room also functions as a place to trap the butterflies if they were to escape as the guests are entering the room. The promenade is really amazing. There are so many different types of butterflies in there. I didn’t take near as many pictures as I would have liked, but I got enough to give you a small glimpse of what kind of butterflies they have.

butterfly 1
They have some that are rather ordinary to me, since I see similar ones all the time, but if you just stop and look at them, even the ordinary ones are beautiful.

butterfly 5
Then they have ones that are enormous! This one it’s hard to tell without anything to compare it to, but it was probably at least the size of my hand.

butterfly 2
At first glance, this one looks rather dull. It does have a very interesting pattern though. Just the fact that it’s brown, and other dull colors make it seem so much more boring than the rest though. However, look what happens when it opens its wings!

butterfly 2 again
Yes, this is the exact same butterfly in the previous picture! You’d never guess it if you were just looking through an album of butterfly pictures!

butterfly 4
I now wish I’d waited around for some of the other dull looking butterflys to spread their wings. I wonder what this one might be hiding…

butterfly 3
I couldn’t tell for certain, but this one almost seemed to have transparent wings.

Plotting Escape
These two butterflies cracked me up. They look like they are staring out the window, longing for freedom. Perhaps they are plotting their escape?

When you leave, you enter another small room. This room is filled with mirrors to help you spot any hichhikers that might be trying to tag along with you. If you do have one, there is another worker on hand to help you get it off.

The Promenade is not the only feature of the Butterfly Pavilion. They also have a chrysalis hatching room. They have large windows so the guests can look in and see the butterflies in various stages of metamorphosis.

Cocoon display
I had not thought about it before, but butterflies have such a short lifespan, that they would need to constantly replenish their supply. The variety in the design of the chrysalises is amazing. All cocoons are not created equally!

Cocoons 1
Cocoons 2
Cocoons 3
I love these! They are shining like jewels! You can see a newly hatched butterfly drying itself off here as well.

Cocoons 4
Cocoons 5
Next we come to the other end of the life cycle. What do they do with all the dead butterflies? Since their lifespan is so short, they must have many dead butterflies to get rid of all the time. Well, they don’t go to waste. Here they are preparing them for display.
dead ones
And the displays that they end up with are nothing short of amazing! I wish I had a better picture for you, but you’ll have to make do with this one. I tried my best to fix it up in Photoshop, so it looks much better than it used to, but since I’m still trying to get the hang of it, the picture’s still not the greatest. It does give a glimpse as to what the display looks like. Just try to imagine the vivid colors.
I just love the design. Whoever put this together is a true artist. I love how the different species are grouped in lines that swirl together.
Finally, before I sign off tonight, I want to share a quote that I saw there. I posted it to facebook, so some of you will have already read it, but I thought it was a really good quote, so it bears repeating.


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