Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster is known for its 1,600 colorful, soaring butterflies, of course. While butterflies might be the namesake for Colorado’s only invertebrate zoo, there are plenty of other critters waiting to capture your child’s interest and imagination—and you’ll learn all about them at the Survival exhibit.
Over 5,000 animals live inside Butterfly Pavilion’s 30,000-square-foot facility, and life at the pavilion is easy compared to life in the wild, where, over time, invertebrates have developed some pretty incredible adaptations, using their bodies and the environment to beat the odds in a world dominated by big, hungry predators.
On display through the end of the year, Survival is set up in the Pavilion’s Crawl-A-See-Em. The walls have been covered with bright, oversized reader boards containing fun facts, including how a Swallowtail caterpillar disguises itself as bird poop.
While my husband and I slowly walked the perimeter of the exhibit, reading up on various adaptations, our kids ran straight to the “Beetle Battle,” a game teaching children the ways in which Hercules beetles use their horns for protection. My children were having so much fun, that I literally had to drag them away from Beetle Battle.
The Dragonfly Launch Pad was another big hit, with a cylinder of air that lets children simulate dragonfly flight. Nearby, there’s a “tree” with a beehive situated between factoids about bees, covering everything from pollen collection to wintertime survival tactics.
In the middle of the room is a runway featuring a series of kids-eye-level “animal tanks” that let guests get right on top of an array of live invertebrates. The runway is educational, and also a good space for jogging off energy before an encounter with the pavilion’s ambassador, Rosie the tarantula, who is available to be held all day, every day, in the corner of the Crawl-A-See-Em.
When you’ve finished exploring Survival, check out the pavilion’s permanent Water’s Edge display, making a big splash with jellyfish, lobsters, scallops, snails, and two hands-on stations where guests can touch sea stars and horseshoe crabs. You’ll also want to take a walk through the butterfly conservatory, where butterfly releases happen at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. daily.
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. $12 for adults, $8 for kids ages two to 12, and free for children under two. 6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster.