A visit to the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden at Assiniboine Park Zoo, Winnipeg, Manitoba
There is something magical about butterflies. They are beautiful and elusive and remind me of freedom, hope and joy. A glimpse of a butterfly flying by can lift one’s spirits. The butterflies at the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden certainly put a smile on my face.
The Garden is located within Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is comprised of two 2000-square-foot mesh-covered quonsets connected by a central area. The central area contains a hatchery, displays and demonstration space.
Many cultures associated butterflies with the soul. Psyche, the Greek goddess of the soul, is depicted as a butterfly-winged woman. In Christianity the butterfly is a symbol of resurrection. To native Americans, the butterfly is a symbol of change and joy. The butterfly animal totem is associated with transformation.
The average life of most butterflies ranges from one week to a month, although there are a few exceptions, such as Monarchs, with average lifespan of around nine months. The Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden brings in new butterflies every couple of weeks during its open season.
The area outside the quonsets contains beautiful gardens, planted with flowers to attract local butterflies. I didn’t notice any local butterflies, but I did see a large blue butterfly fly through a field as I left the area. It was definitely not a local and must have escaped from the quonsets in spite of air-locked entry and exit vestibules. We were very careful to make sure no butterfly hitchhiked on our bodies before we exited.
The Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden is open from late spring to early fall.