Penang is many things to many people. It is an industrialized modern city as it is the home of leading Malay historical and cultural landmarks and natural resources. It has a number of botanical gardens and interesting parks, which include Penang National Park, Penang Hill, and the Tropical Fruit Farm, just to mention a few. A simple yet unique park that contents itself in the sidelines is the Penang Butterfly Farm. It caters to a very specific group of people and enthusiasts, but to those who have bothered to come simply for the experience has gained a lot of exciting insights into the lives of butterflies.
Located on Jalan Teluk Bahang, the butterfly sanctuary is home to thousands of tropical butterflies that freely flutter around to the delight of visitors. It is the first of its kind in Malaysia. Managers of this unique farm believe that it is much more than just a tourist destination. The farm is a living museum whose main goal is to educate the public and conduct research in the care, preservation and protection of butterflies.
Penang Butterfly Farm was established by David Goh, who was eventually inspired to learn that the Malay Peninsula is home to 1,000 recorded butterfly species. David Goh met with the owner of the famous Stratford Butterfly Farm in England, Mr. Clive Farell, and their meeting apparently sealed the deal. In 1986, Penang’s very own butterfly farm was opened to the public.
Today, the farm is a well-established institution that is known both for tourism and educational purposes. Mr. Goh is happy for what his farm has achieved but sad that it is appreciated more by foreigners than fellow Malaysians. He said, “The locals only think of the Penang Butterfly Farm as a tourist attraction. In fact the farm is known and respected internationally as a breeding center.”
Strategically located at the end Batu Ferringhi, the farm presently takes care of 4,000 butterflies belonging to 120 different Malaysian species, including the rare Indian Leaf and the endangered Yellow Bird wing. One of the rarest and most viewed butterflies in captivity is the Rajah Brooke’s Bird wing of the Papilionidae family. It was first sighted in Borneo by A. R. Wallace in 1855, and for some reason was named after Rajah Brooke, the first British Rajah of Sarawak. There are also about 300 varieties of tropical plants inside the farm.
The butterfly farm is also quite near the city’s Forest Reserve. This allows the farm to frequently release butterflies to the nearby natural habitat. The goal is to sustain, if not, increase butterfly population in the wild. Experts have observed that some species do not mate in captivity, and therefore, it is unlikely that this specie will thrive within the farm’s confines.
Penang Butterfly Farm is open every day, including weekends and holidays. The best time to visit is either early morning or late afternoon when the butterflies joyfully flutter around. Admission is RM 12.50 (adult) and RM 6.25 (children). Children under 5 years old may come for free.