The Butterfly Conservatory was founded as a Rainforest Regeneration Project by Glenn Baines, a retired engineer from the USA. It was during a vacation trip to Costa Rica, that he experienced a breathtaking eruption of the Arenal Volcano, from his vantage point in the small village of El Castillo. The magnificent series of lava eruptions he observed that day left a lasting impression, and confirmed the decision to make this place home. (Note: Recurrent eruptions are normal for the Arenal volcano, and fortunately they never affect the El Castillo area. Not even in July 1968 when the original Arenal, which had been dormant for over 400 years, first re-awoke with enormous eruptions that formed the 1968 New Arenal that just since 1968 has created a higher crater than the original volcano.)
Caligo eurilochus (Owl Butterfly)
After moving here, and being struck daily by the awesome feeling and energy in this volcano, and at the same time the peace of the surrounding rainforest reserves, an inspiration was born… to create a butterfly sanctuary in an area of previously cut rainforest. Just 60 years ago all the area around the Arenal volcano was primary forest, but most of it has been cut under a misguided program to Homestead the area into small cattle ranches. So Glenn’s idea became reality with the purchase of a 13 acre cattle ranch located close to the remaining rainforest reserves. And as a result the Vision for the project was established to become “the best Learning Center for butterfly and nature regeneration in Costa Rica.”
Since 2003, the Butterfly Conservatory has been expanding and enhancing it’s various nature exhibitions and biodiversity demonstrations to provide an educational resource that people can visit and appreciate for years to come. And by placing a special focus on butterflies; the project has now grown to contain the largest butterfly exhibition in Costa Rica.
Passiflora edulis (Maracuyá or Granadilla)
Glenn says, “the fun part of building this project, is observing the astonishment of our tourist visitors who are constantly amazed by the butterflies and the rustic beauty of nature being regenerated… and of course the good feelings that spontaneously come from seeing new ecosystems materializing. The creation of another little lung on Mother Earth, and part of the plan for Costa Rica to be the first nation on the planet to be totally carbon neutral”.