Butterfly Jungle at the Safari Park


Paper Kite butterfly

The warm humid air inside the exhibit was relief against the morning chill as I ventured into a tropic jungle in the hills of Escondido.

Instantly, my cold camera lens fogged up from the moisture in the air as I held it, ready for my own safari into a brilliantly-color world.

The  sight of butterflies floating above me truly felt magical.  After taking a few steps in, I turned to see many butterflies floating above the doorway, enjoying the morning sun.

I felt little breezes as large butterflies swooped past my neck, teasing me with their closeness.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park offered me a chance to see their Butterfly Jungle exhibit with my son and I lept at it.

I grew up going to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park (formerly Wild Animal Park) and knew that it would be a good chance to take some wonderful pictures in the morning quiet.


Guides were provided to help identify some of the 30 species of butterflies on display ( to cut down on using resources, the guides are collected when exiting the exhibit and reused).


I really want to say here that I took many, many wonderful pictures of butterflies as they floated through the air, rested peacefully on the ground or sat perfectly against contrasting foilage.

Instead, I experience a set of panic attacks as Wonder Boy ran this way and that though the exhibit a few times, nearly trampling exquisite little bodies as he ran.


Giant Owl butterflies (in foreground)

 Of course I don’t have a picture of him running through the exhibit here. But I do have a picture of butterflies on the ground.

The butterflies are comfortable with people, as several alighted on backs, hats and hands and more stood still posing for portraits everywhere.


Giant owl butterfly

I even got to hold a small Orange Julia on my hand for my son to see before it scampered away on a forgotten errand.


Malachite butterfly


Giant Owl butterfly

Butterfly Jungle is one of the park’s most popular attractions, giving thousands a temporary home in the Hidden Jungle aviary this year until April 15.
While butterflies can be seen other times of the year in Hidden Jungle, right now is the perfect time to get to see and take beautiful photographs.
I definitely recommend setting the iPhone on HDR if you have it- several of these are iPhone pictures.

Can you find all five butterflies? That's what the whole exhibit is like!

Butterfly Jungle is popular enough that timed tickets to the exhibit are handed out at Lorikeet Landing (Butterfly Jungle is free with park admission).

Some handy tips for visiting Butterfly Jungle:

  • Check out the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s website for information about contests and activities relating to their Butterfly Jungle exhibit including a photo contest and coloring pages to turn in for a drawing.
  • Go get your tickets to the butterflies early. Tickets were gone well before the end of the park day. While you’re there, go feed the lorikeets for $3- another great photo op.
  • Wear bright clothing! The Safari Park recommends this for attracting butterflies. *
  • Go light with the gear when you go in if possible- there may be a lot of people crowded into one small space trying to get the best pictures, you need room to squeeze. Also, you could brush up against butterflies on walls, plants, fences, signs, and other people. Strollers are not permitted in the exhibit.
  • Grab one of their delicious butterfly-themed cupcakes at the Oasis Deli, complete with gummy butterfly on top (I had angelfood).

There are other ways of celebrating butterflies at the Safari Park during Butterfly Jungle.

We caught the beginning of a performance of the Flutterby Players, where my son enjoyed the view from the front row until he decided he also wanted to be an actor.

Wonder Boy tried on a pair of wings, fluttering around Discovery Station and took close view of butterflies with a magnifying glass.


I got one of these as a souvenier of the day. (Refillable for the day same day as purchased, 99 cent refills if you bring it with you another day.)


Thank you to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for inviting me to see the beautiful butterflies!


*Actually, my son wore yellow and I wore orange and they wouldn’t fly near us. But he is also 2 1/2 and they probably considered him Godzilla and me his sidekick in terror. The butterflies also seemed to appreciate dark denim. Very fashionably-minded.

8 thoughts on “Butterfly Jungle at the Safari Park

  1. Maribel Reyes

    Wonderful pictures! We went last year and although we were wearing different colors and a bit of perfume we didn’t have one land on us. But then again we had our 2 year old {then 1 year old} with us and he was loud! :)


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