Situated in Coconut Creek, part of the greater Fort Lauderdale area, is the world's largest butterfly park. If you have any interest in seeing large numbers of butterflies flitting about, this place should be on your list of destinations to visit when in Southern Florida.
Butterfly World is a large complex of connecting building and gardens, covering ten acres. It's home to over 80 species and from 3,000 to 20,000 live butterflies from around the globe. As most butterflies are short lived (about a week in the wild, two weeks in captivity), a considerable effort is required to support their reproduction and repopulation. Butterfly World prides itself in having created conditions in which butterflies thrive.
Butterfly World is the product of the passion of Ronald Boender, a retired engineer. He began raising butterflies at his Florida home as a hobby, which was converted into a business to supply the demand for butterflies from zoos and colleges. In time, he and his partners decided to create this unique facility to serve several purposes: 1) To be a travel destination and public attraction, 2) To serve as a butterfly research facility, 3) To facilitate butterfly production and supply.
Butterfly World opened in 1988 and has expanded to include bird and plant exhibits, the entire place being very interesting to visit. After paying your admission, you wander past the research center where you'll see staff actively at work with pupae.
You'll enter a large set of connected buildings, home to many butterflies and a variety of birds. The environment is tropical and there's lots to take in, so take your time and enjoy yourself.
Many butterflies will be flying around and some will almost certainly land on or near you, so it's easy to take photos if you're a little patient. Here are some of the beauties I saw on my visit:
Blue morphos, which I first became familiar with when traveling to the Amazon basin in the 1990s, remain my favorites. They are a rather plain brown color when at rest with their wings closed, as you see in the following photo of morphos feeding on sliced bananas....
But when they open their wings they are the loveliest shade of blue. When they fly through the jungle, you'll see a magical flash of blue, which disappears and reappears as the morpho flaps its wings.
If birds interest you, there are aviaries featuring hummingbirds and a variety of finches and songbirds.
A very popular building features the Lorikeet Encounter, where you can hold and feed these colorful and outgoing birds
The grounds are worth exploring, with a large pond, waterfall, and terrific gardens populated by plants designed to enhance butterfly survival.
I love nature and am a student of it, and really enjoyed my visit to Butterfly World. I've seen a number of butterfly exhibits over the years and hands down this one was the best -- plus you have the added bonus of interesting displays of birds and plants to study.
Count on a good half day to visit -- a full day if you want to linger and take your time and enjoy everything in a leisurely way. For more information, please contact the Butterfly World website.