By Ann Evans
Photos: Rob Tysall of Tysall’s Photography
One of my favourite stories this year was reporting on the newly refurbished Stratford Butterfly Farm. This award winning tourist attraction in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire had undergone a £250,000 refurbishment, making it an even more spectacular and visitor friendly place to visit than ever before.
Photographer, Rob braved the heat of the landscaped tropical greenhouses to photograph some of the world’s most beautiful butterflies, as well as some of the insects, reptiles and arachnoids resident there.
The Butterfly Farm is home to around 1,500 of the worlds most spectacular and colourful butterflies. With 250 different species from 20 different countries it makes this the largest collection of tropical butterflies in the UK.
It really is like stepping into a tropical rainforest with all the sounds, humidity, exotic plants, fish-filled pools and cascading waterfalls. And since the £250,000 refurbishment, there are also beautiful new replica Maya sculptures which originally came from the ancient rainforest civilisation in Beliz. In fact the Stratford Butterfly Farm is one of just a few UK attractions able to offer schools access to Maya resources in line with the National Curriculum and special guided tours of the Maya are now incorporated into school visits.
The High Commissioner of Belize, Ms Perla Perdomo, cut the blue ribbon at a prestigious ceremony on July 22 2016 to celebrate the newly refurbished butterfly farm. Around 85 guests attended the event including the first lady of Belize, Mrs Kim Simplis Barrow, Minister Counsellor for the High Commissioner, Mrs Laura Frampton, Stratford-upon-Avon Mayor Cllr. Juliet Short, Clive Farrell, the owner of the butterfly farm, general manager Richard Lamb and renowned Maya Archaeologist, Dr Diane Davies.
Speeches were made by Clive Farrell as well as the High Commissioner, Stratford Mayor and Dr Diane Davies who emphasised the importance of the Maya and the legacy they have left us. She explained that it was the Mayans that were the first to discover cocoa in 900 AD. Without them there would be no chocolate. The Butterfly Farm has recently planted a Cacao tree in the Flight Area to mark this fact.
Jane Kendrick, Marketing Manager at the Stratford Butterfly Farm said, “Our opening ceremony was a fantastic celebration to mark the significant changes made to improve the Butterfly Farm. We were honoured that so many diplomats from Belize were able to attend and join us in celebrating the Maya and its ancient civilisation. We now look forward to welcoming our visitors, who I’m
sure will be delighted with all the improvements we have made.”
All areas of the farm have been given a wonderful new look, including the Mini-beast Metropolis where you will discover such creatures as the Giant African Millipede, the African Land Snail and Stick Insects. And fascinating to watch are two species of leaf cutter ant, working tirelessly, marching along overhead ropes to and from their colonies. And behind the safety of glass tanks are an array of Tarantulas in Arachnoland including the Brazilian Fire Red which can grow up to 25cm in length.
Other creatures we spotted were a Royal Python Snake so named because rulers in Africa would wear the python as jewellery. There’s also Archie, the Farm’s resident Veiled Chameleon, tropical non-insectivorous birds who feed on fruit and seeds, and a couple of iguanas. But of course the emphasis is on the many hundreds of spectacular butterflies with their vibrant colours and markings that flutter gently about you as you explore.
The Stratford Butterfly Farm is open from 10am to 6pm every day of the week. For more information including admission prices and group rates, please visit the website at www.butterflyfarm.co.uk or telephone on 01789 299288.