An outing to Butterfly World Tropical Garden in the Cape Winelands has taught a group of pre-schoolers about the diversity of nature and how important it is to look after it.
The group of 16 two-to-three year olds visited the zoological garden, which is located in a 1,000sq metre greenhouse near Klapmuts, towards the end of August.
On arriving, our guide Stacey told us the history of the place and talked about its aims in promoting natural habitat protection and reducing wild pet trading via education.
She then showed the learners some butterflies, explaining that they were insects rather than birds as they had four wings and six legs. She also described their seven-to-14 day lifecycle, which moves through the stages of larva and caterpillar to pupa, chrysalis and finally butterfly.
The Garden takes about 300 butterfly pupae from breeding farms in countries such as Coast Rica, the Philippines and Malaysia each week. But it also houses other creatures such as reptiles, spiders, birds and monkeys so that there are other things to see on cold and overcast days when the butterflies are less active.
After looking at other insects such as dragon flies, the pre-schoolers then visited the animals, which ranged from leopards and tortoises to iguanas.
The key message of the day was to respect all of nature’s creatures and to be kind to them by not throwing stones or screaming as they do not respond well to too much noise.