Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is about a 15 minute drive from Kitchener or about an hour from Toronto.  It features a large greenhouse type building that houses approximately 2000 live butterflies and moths as well as 15 species of birds.  There are also over 100 species of plants along with a few fish and turtles.
A Wood Nymph?  A Rice Paper?  Clearly, I need to bone up on my  butterflies. 
I have been 5 or 6 times over the last dozen or so years.  When I first visited back in the 90's they were a small temporary building but they have grown over the years and now have a large permanent structure that houses the conservatory, the creepy crawly bugs, the butterfly displays, gift shop, coffee shop etc.
This one I know!  A Blue Morpho!
My kids have always loved our visits to the Conservatory.  The love the butterflies obviously, but they also love the plants and birds too.  The Conservatory often has a special event of some sort going on too, like a scavenger hunt or BugFeast during March Break.
A Blue Morpho butterfly hanging out on our scavenger hunt card.
There are helpful volunteers throughout the conservatory who will answer questions or point kids in the right direction to see something interesting.
One of the volunteers explaining some aspect of butterflies to my kids.
They also have an area where kids can check out cocoons and chrysalises in various stages that my kids really enjoyed.
She brought the fake flower hoping it would attract a butterfly to land on her.  No luck this time.
The Touch Table was a big hit too since it let kids touch butterfly wings, empty cocoons etc.  There is a strict no touching policy for the live ones so the kids were happy to get a chance to find out what the butterflies felt like.  
Checking out the empty cocoons and whatnot at the touch table.
Once the kids are done with the Conservatory, they can head into the connected building which houses their other bugs.  Don't worry, they are enclosed!
Listening to the hissing cockroaches.  My daughter wants to get one as a pet.  To which I replied.... 
When we were there in the spring they had Atlas Moths which was pretty exciting since they are the biggest moths in the world and only live for about a week.  Also?  They have no mouths and don't feed at all during their lives as buterflies. Come on, that is freaky!

A big ass moth.
The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory also has a gift shop and a room where they do crafts and other activities along with a snack bar.  You can also bring your own food and enjoy it at one of the picnic areas.  

A few things to keep in mind
  • The Conservatory is warm (about 28 degrees C) and humid.  So, dress in layers.  You can hang your coat or jacket up before entering he conservatory. It is great to go in the winter to get a burst of warmth and sunshine through the glass ceiling.
  • They are open year round but have different hours depending on the season so check the website for up to date information.
  • It costs about $40 for a family of four to get in but you can usually find coupons to get a bit of a deal.  If you live in the area a membership might be the way to go since it pays for itself if you go more than twice.  
  • Parking is free!
  • There is another butterfly conservatory in Cambridge called Wings of Paradise but that one is by appointment only.  The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory used to be called Wings of Paradise but they changed the name a few years ago.  So, if you hear someone talking about Wings of Paradise, they may well mean the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.  Confused?    

Waiting patiently for a butterfly to land on her.  It did eventually work!

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