Rosie the Tarantula will soon have a new home.
The Butterfly Pavilion’s famous spider, as well as its 5,000 other critters, will be moving in 2021 to Broomfield and a more than $30 million facility with double the space — pending final approval from city council.
The new facility housing the pavilion and its affiliate Center for Invertebrate Research and Conservation will have 60,000 square feet, which is twice the size of its current facility on U.S. 36 in Westminster. A larger, state-of-the-art facility will allow the pavilion to be a global leader in research and conservation, president and CEO Patrick Tennyson said.
“(The new facility) will elevate us to the level where we are the hub for that research and conservation to come together and then be told every day to the public,” Tennyson said.
Broomfield Mayor Randy Ahrens joined Tennyson and the board chairman Rob O’Dea at the pavilion’s current location Tuesday to announce the move. City council is scheduled to vote on the measure Tuesday night. The council supported the move when it was discussed at a meeting in May, according to the Broomfield Enterprise.
Built in 1995, the Butterfly Pavilion is the only Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited invertebrate zoo. The additional space will allow the zoo to expand its research, create more engaging exhibits, such as a three-story rain forest butterfly encounter, and add to its 75-person staff, Tennyson said.
It’ll also help boost programs, such as the pavilion’s dragonfly breeding, husbandry and animal welfare programs, and Chilean Rose Hair Safety Web for Arthropod Reproduction and Management.
Tennyson said researchers — whether they’re in Mongolia or on the California coast — are regularly learning new things about invertebrates. But those discussions often stay within academic circles and take years to reach the public. The new facility will work to better connect the public with that research and, with any luck, contribute to change and help curb the decline of pollinators in backyards and parks, he said.
“When I got the call that we got this, I could have floated over here like a butterfly,” Ahrens said while standing inside the pavilion’s Wing of the Tropics exhibit.
Broomfield was bidding for the project against Westminster and Adams County, Ahrens said.
If approved by Broomfield City Council, the city will be contributing $7 million toward the project, according to the resolution. The pavilion is putting $16 million toward it. There will additionally be a $1 surcharge on tickets to generate $6 million in bond or debt proceeds for the project. Developer McWhinney is donating land valued at $4 million.
The center will be the cornerstone of the science district Broomfield has planned for the 900-acre North Park neighborhood near the intersection of Interstate 25 and Colorado 7. The center will be across from a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) school. The facilities will be utilized by the Butterfly Pavilion, Adams 12 Five Star School District and the city.
The neighborhood is also planning to become a pollinator district by providing pollinator-friendly habitats in parks, open spaces, corridors and rooftops.