Visiting a Butterfly Conservatory with a toddler can be challenging. A parent might wonder if there are enough activities to keep the little ones occupied for the duration of the visit. We visited Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory last March and very much enjoyed the experience. My daughter remembered it and for the last two weeks has been asking to go see the butterflies again.
Is a butterfly conservatory fun for a toddler? Absolutely. Butterflies are the main attraction. My little one was very interested in stopping and watching them up close and personally as they snacked on some bananas and oranges.
The employees of the conservatory walked around and answered any questions or just talked about the butterflies. My daughter liked listening to them. Not sure if she understood much at her age, but it seemed that she paid attention. As a part of my personal development, I learned that the circles on butterflies wings (such as pictured above) are meant to imitate animal eyes to scare away the predators. Nifty, huh? You go, mother nature!
They have a 'window' where the visitors can watch the butterflies hatch from their cocoons. My daughter also liked looking at butterflies come out of their "houses".
The "touch table" was the biggest toddler attraction inside the butterfly atrium. My little one was able to touch the butterfly wings. This part actually creeped Adam out as he had no desire to explain to our 2,5 year old the concept of a dead butterfly and why the wings were there by themselves. I, on the other hand, just told her that the butterflies changed outfits and did not need those wings anymore. A little white lie.
She also liked the fact that she could touch the cocoon, which she so named "butterfly housey". She was able to pick it up and examine it.
Lastly, the best part of the table, and the one that kept her entertained for a good 20 minutes was a worm dig. It was a bowl with oatmeal and sweet potatoes and a bunch of worms burrowing in there. When she scooped them with a spoon and exposed them to the light, they would start burrowing into the oatmeal until no longer visible. She did it again, and again, and again.
We learned that those worms, my daughter had so much fun with, eventually turn into little black friendly bugs. She declined an offer to hold one of them. I did not hold them either.
Butterflies and worms aside, the employees were carrying around some pretty cool creatures for kids to see and even touch such as this bug in the picture below. I asked the name and the person told me, but I forgot. I just remember that they are friendly. They do not bite.
They also have birds, quails, and snails. I can't say the birds were a big hit with my daughter. Taking pictures of them was easy. Some were actually sitting still. Quails, on the other hand, just hid in the bushes. My daughter loved trying to find where they were hiding. Snails were the size of a small turtle and of course were chilling in their own little aquarium. Nice to look at, but not a toddler attention grabber.
Another attraction that caught my toddler's attention was the pond with turtles and fish. The turtles looked almost fake to me at first. Then, they started to move. My daughter loved standing under the waterfall and watching the fish swim.
Outside of the butterfly greenhouse, the conservatory also had a Royal Ontario Museum Travelling Egyptian exhibit. I though it was interesting to see. There were two rooms. One of the rooms was mainly about a mummy and who the person was, how they died, how they got buried, etc. The other room was about the culture of ancient Egypt including things such as importance of eyeliner, transportation etc.
Egypt: Gift of The Nile | Room 1
Egypt: Gift of The Nile | Room 2
My daughter did not care about any of it. She only cared about the "ancient dig" for kids: a box of sand with some Egyptian "artifacts" and brushes that the kids got to use to dig in the sand. We struggled to pull her away. There were not too many people, so she actually got to enjoy the play for a long time. This exhibit is leaving the conservatory on September 15th.
The place was not busy, and we did not feel rushed in any way. We really took our time and literally smelled the roses and watched butterflies and birds fly.
We had great time. This is something worth visiting again, especially when the weather gets colder.