Insect Zoos Defined

The term "insect zoo" has been applied to facilities of many different types. Defined broadly, an insect zoo or insectarium is an exhibit facility dedicated to the display of live insects housed in a separate room, building, or distinct exhibit hall and maintained primarily for public visitation. Insect zoos typically are permanent, year-round facilities that house live insects and related groups of arthropods (arachnids, centipedes, millipedes, and crustaceans) and occasionally representatives of other invertebrate groups. Insect zoos have been built in zoological parks, natural history museums, botanical gardens, county parks, horticultural centers, amusement parks, nature reserves, and universities, and on privately owned land. Interest in their development has increased (excluding the period between the first and second World Wars) with growing public interest in biodiversity and the documented success of insect exhibits (Table I).

Most facilities contain a series of terrariums, where species are displayed in naturalistic mini-environments. A major insectarium is a comprehensive coverage of the class Insecta, representing many different orders such as Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Orthoptera, and Mantodea. Observation honey bee hives, ant and termite colonies, walkingsticks, katydids, lubber grasshoppers, and assassin bugs are a few examples of typical displays. These facilities can be distinguished from collections of a few species of arthropod housed in a reptile house or aquarium or included in an exhibit that focuses on the interpretation of a particular ecosystem. Many tropical rain forest exhibits today include a few displays of insects, often a leafcutter ant exhibit and a few other invertebrates as nominal representatives of the vast diversity of invertebrates. However, overall these exhibits emphasize the vertebrate fauna of rain forests and present a relatively minor treatment of the subject of invertebrates. Major insectariums typically have between 30 to 100 live displays, exhibiting up to 100 species of arthropods.

A butterfly house or lepidoptery is a type of live insect facility that primarily displays members of the order

TABLE I List of Selected Insect Exhibits Built Worldwide from 1797 through 2001


Date of establishment


Small early acclimatization collections

Jardin des Plantes, Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle et Ménagerie, Paris, France Jardin d'Acclimatisation, Paris, France Permanent exhibits

Insect House, London Zoo, London, England (renovation 1913, Web of Life, 1999)

Artis Zoo, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Frankfurt Zoo, Frankfurt, Germany (renovation 1957)

Zoologischer Garten Köln, Cologne, Germany (new Insektarium 1971)

Budapest Zoo, Budapest, Hungary (renovations: Vivarium, 1970; Butterflies, 2000)

Zoo-Aquarium Berlin, Berlin, Germany (renovated 1978—1983)

Zoologischer Garten, Leipzig, Germany

Gruga Park, Essen, Germany

Sherbourne Butterfly House, Dorset, England

Löbbecke Museum and Aquazoo, Düsseldorf, Germany (renovation in 1987) Guernsey Butterfly Farm, England

Insektarium, Zoological—Botanic Garden Wilhelma, Stuttgart, Germany

London Butterfly House, Syon Park, England

Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm, Stratford-upon-Avon, England

Papiliorama-Nocturama, Marin Center, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Dortmund Zoo, Dortmund, Germany

Bug World, Bristol Zoo, Bristol, England (renovated in 1996)

Butterflies Center, Girona, Spain

Mariposario del Drago, Tenerife, Spain

Idea Schmetterlings-Paradies Neuenmark, Germany

Krefeld Zoo, Krefeld, Germany

Micropolis, Saint-Léon-en Lévezou France

The Butterfly Arc, Montegrotto Terme, Italy (seasonal, 1988)

Projeckledare Aquademin, Sweden "Science Centre," Göteborg, Sweden

Takarazuka Insectarium, Takarazuka Zoological and Botanical Garden, Japan Toshima-en Insectarium Toshima-en Amusement Park, Tokyo, Japan Insectarium, Tama Zoo, Japan (renovations in 1966, 1975, 1988) Penang Butterfly House, Penang, Malaysia Fragile Forest, Singapore Zoo, Singapore North America United States

Early short-lived or seasonal exhibits

Bronx Zoo, New York Zoological Society, New York Goddard State Park, Providence, Rhode Island Chicago (Brookfield) Zoo, Brookfield, Illinois Flushing Meadow Zoo, New York

Insect Zoo, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

Permanent year-round exhibits

Arizona—Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona

Otto Orkin Insect Zoo, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC World of the Insect, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden, Cincinnati, Ohio Insect Zoo, San Francisco Zoological Gardens, San Francisco, California Invertebrate Exhibit, National Zoological Park, Washington DC Butterfly World, Coconut Creek, Florida

Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia

Ralph K. Parsons Insect Zoo, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California

Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven, Florida

Terminix Insect City, Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth, Texas

Butterfly Encounter, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Escondido, California

Moody Gardens, Galveston, Texas

Cockerell Butterfly House, Houston Natural Science Museum, Houston, Texas

Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center, Westminster, Colorado

Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak, Michigan

Bug World, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington

Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, Chesterfield, Missouri

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