by Linda Burlingame
Most of us will never visit a rainforest in person, but you can enjoy a rainforest experience in Branson, Missouri, at The Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure. It really is an adventure, with so much to see and so many activities. Itâ€™s a self-guided journey, but there are always knowledgeable staff members nearby to provide more information and answer questions. Besides butterflies in The Aviary, there are other rainforest inhabitants in The Living Rainforest Science Center. There are 61 animals, including the largest species of skink and gecko.
The Aviary itself is enchanting. Itâ€™s the tropical butterfliesâ€™ rainforest area. There are more than a thousand butterflies (more than 60 species) flitting about this botanical garden thatâ€™s filled with lush greenery, towering palms, a waterfall, orchids and other exotic plants. There are endless photo opportunities. Itâ€™s fun to feed the butterflies with the complimentary flower nectar. Butterflies might light on your shoulder â€¦ or on your nose!
The Banyan Tree Adventure is a maze-like walk through a rainforest, a trail of â€œbanyan tree rootsâ€ that leads to the rainforest pond, which is filled with illusions of lily pads, fish, and floating flowers. Step on the â€œwaterâ€ and watch it ripple, sending fish scurrying. An extraordinary fantasy! And The Emerald Forest Mirror Maze â€” evening in the rainforest â€” remarkable!
If entomologist Matt Trujillo is around, heâ€™ll tell you that because the butterfly has such a short life span, two-three weeks, The Butterfly Palace imports between 500 and 700 in the Chrysalis (pupa) stage each week. Imported under strict USDA guidelines, they come from butterfly farms in countries including Costa Rica, Australia, the Philippines, Colombia, El Salvador, Kenya, and Malaysia. The project promotes rainforest preservation. These farms are a vital part of the rainforest, and in some smaller countries, itâ€™s their only way of life. It also promotes a sustainable rainforest economy; in the wild thereâ€™s a 7% survival rate for a butterfly. But in a butterfly farm they achieve a 70-90% survival rate. Farmers release a certain percentage of butterflies back to the wild to support species preservation.
In The Rainforest Theater the â€œHidden Worldâ€ and â€œ3D Flight of the Butterfliesâ€ videos rotate all day. Youâ€™ll get answers to questions you didnâ€™t know you had! Youâ€™ll also enjoy the Gift Shop at â€œBase Camp,â€ the expansive, impressive multi-story lobby area. Youâ€™ll discover exquisite treasures for yourself and your home. (And probably something for the friend whoâ€™s taking care of your cat and bringing in your mail while youâ€™re having fun in Branson!)
Theyâ€™ve created an astonishing atmosphere at The Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure. Itâ€™s exciting, itâ€™s educational, and itâ€™s certainly fun for all ages. Youâ€™ll create memories to be cherished. Enjoy!