Why I Will Not Go Back to Dubai Butterfly Garden: A Review

by Gabby Beckford
Reading Time: 4 minutes

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Many people don't know this, but I've always been somewhat obsessed with butterflies and butterfly gardens.

I was inspired by the gorgeous butterfly gardens I'd visited while living in Japan, and it was my dream as a child and is still my dream if this whole college thing doesn't work out to open up my own botanical garden one day! So when I learned that the Dubai Butterfly Garden was located not even a 5 minute walk away from the Dubai Miracle Gardens, I was very excited.

After I bought my 50AED (~13.5USD/12.9EUR) I was still looking forward to the garden—however, that quickly changed when I walked into the first room.

Butterfly Garden Sheikh | Packs Light

The Crown Prince of Dubai… Made of dead butterflies… Yeah.

Butterfly Gardens Dead Packs Light

More dead butterfly art. Is it just me, or does this rub you the wrong way as well?



















Yep. Those are thousands and thousands of dead butterflies. As far as I know, the butterflies could have died naturally in captivity and been collected and made into art.

But for how perfectly intact and preserved each butterfly on the wall was… Somehow I doubt that was the case.

People may argue that these are ‘just bugs', but as someone who loves animals and especially butterflies, this was honestly just disturbing. And this was just the first room.

I continued into the moratorium garden, where I was greeted by an attendant who told me that were three main rooms to the gardens, and to please mind the signs and to not touch the butterflies.

Dubai Butterfly Garden | Packs Light

Feeding flowers arranged all over the rooms. See the two butterflies on the top right?

The garden itself was alright. I was very surprised that it was all indoors, as previous butterfly gardens I'd been to where open-air with netting or fencing to keep the butterflies in.

Then again, this is the middle of Dubai and since the garden itself is only open from November to March because of the heat, I'm sure they need the cement walls to insulate the gardens for temperature control.

However, the heat control did make all of the rooms a little uncomfortable humid and warm.

Butterfly Garden Leaves | Packs Light

Vines and flowers hanging from the ceilings for the butterflies to escape into and rest in.

I will say, there are a large variety of types of butterflies and they were very well fed. Anywhere you walked you could see a butterfly of different shape, size, and color than the previous one.

And all around the gardens were various flowers, ledges, sculptures, and plates filled with many different types of butterfly foods.

Dubai Butterfly Garden | Packs Light

Butterflies munching on some flowers, fruits, and sponges soaked in sugar water.

One thing I did not like seeing were the people not following the simple rules. I saw many instances of kids and adults grabbing and holding butterflies by their wings and taking photos with them.

Many people brought their kids with them which is fine, but they were sprinting around the gardens shaking all of the plants and scaring the butterflies into flying around.

Any signs that said, “No Running”, “Do Not Touch the Butterflies”, or “No Flash Photography in This Area” were blatantly ignored by the visitors, and I was surprised that the many attendants walking around the gardens never said anything.

Butterfly Garden Flowers Sign | Packs Light

More decorative feeding areas. I'll hand it to them, it was very colorful and decorative.

There was one area I especially did not like. I believe it was in the second room, and there was a small enclosure room bound by netting. I assume it was for people to go into the room and sit on the benches and observe the butterflies, and if they got lucky, have a butterfly land on them and take a photo. Of course, this was not the case.

So many unruly kids kept running inside of the enclosure, hopping up and down on the benches and grabbing for the butterflies. No parents stopped them, and it made being in the enclosure bad for other visitors, but of course horrible for the butterflies.

An attendant actually came around and tapped on the net walls to get the butterflies off the side and to fly around the enclosure to be grabbed at by the kids. Hm.

Dubai Butterfly Garden | Packs Light

Inside of the enclosed butterfly area.

Dubai Butterfly Garden | Packs Light

Photo of a butterfly that has been in this garden too long 🙁

This final photo is the quintessential reason that I would say “No” to returning to the Dubai Butterfly Gardens.

To the naked eye, it looks like a butterfly simply flew to my friend's hand and landed on it. But this butterfly was actually passed to her by a little girl who had been taking photos with it before and left to go chase other butterflies. When I looked closer at why this butterfly was so fine with being handled, I saw why.

In the photos you can see it's wing is a little torn, but what you can't see is that on the other side where it's other wing is only half there. It was also missing 3 out of 6 of its little legs.

This butterfly didn't want to rest—it just couldn't fly.

Aside from the venue of the garden being a little stuffy temperature wise, being constantly bombarded by uncontrolled children, and not having the best lighting for photos, watching the butterflies be mangled and stressed was enough for me to feel compelled not to visit Dubai Butterfly Garden again.

Have you been to Dubai Miracle Garden? Would you go after this review?
Let me know in the comments (No judgement either way)

Dubai has a stunning, wonderful garden full of imported butterflies... and I will never go back. Read to find out why.

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Dubai has a stunning, wonderful garden full of imported butterflies... and I will never go back. Read to find out why.

Pin me!

Gabby Beckford

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Lottie June 12, 2020 - 3:46 AM

I’d been to the Miracle Gardens in Dec but didn’t go to the butterfly gardens. Thankfully I didn’t, or I’ll feel sad seeing these! The floral garden was much nicer though! I loved the colors and installations so much I wrote about the place!

M. V. Bhaktha January 7, 2020 - 4:31 AM

Hey thank you for sharing your experience. Sad to read about how you felt about the well being of the butterflies in the garden. This is synonymous with Zoo. I have stopped visiting Zoo for the very reason that the animals are kept in cramped spaces with little room for their free movement. Its so pathetic to see them struggle to survive each day even though being fed at regular intervals……thats not their life :(. Being a wildlife photographer myself I can totally understand the concern you have shown and appreciate it that you penned it down.
There is one butterfly park close to my birth place in India (Belvai, South Kanara District, Karnataka, India). The only private butterfly park of that state called “Sammilan Shetty Butterfly Park, Belvai” (google it to find out more). It is spread over an area of 8 acres land owned by the Biologist/Conservationist/Naturalist, Sammilan Shetty. The park is an open forest completely with natural environment without any enclosures. The owner has developed it by planting the host plants and trees. Really worth the visit. He has won many local/National awards for his contribution towards butterfly conservation. He is gem of a person and any one would love to meet/interact with him.

Sarah June 22, 2019 - 3:39 AM

I have visited the place, including the tour. I was sad as not all tour guides had any idea about butterflies, but in the 4th dome where the blue butterfly is pictured by you we had an amazing guy, who explained that in the mornings they collect all dead butterflies, as they do in all butterfly gardens and they use those for the arts(as they usually live for 2 weeks only). I have visited before butterfly museums where I doubt they looked for dead butterflies, but that wasn’t the case here. About not being able to fly is absolutely NOT TRUE! There is a cut on the wings on this photo but it can be any kinda injury not only an unsupervised child. I have seen more injured butterflies and still flying! In dome 4 the butterfly type is chosen as it is easy to approach at the day. We were standing and at a point there was 8 of them on a girl with me. I agree that PARENTS who don’t control their kids are horrible, but there is nothing wrong with the garden. You can’t possible ask staff to educate their parents, having so many tourist with lack of Arabic and English. Btw I saw someone who wasn’t looking for her steps and step on a large one, resting on the floor. So anybody can be cruel unintentionally. Go and have a look, the place is beautiful and now I think opened through the whole year, unlike Miracle Gardne.

Gabby June 26, 2019 - 4:02 PM

Hi Sarah. Thank you for sharing your opinion and engaging in dialogue! This post was written in 2016—it’s possible much has changed there since I last went.

But from my personal experience back then, I would not return. The comfort and respect of the butterflies was not foremost in my opinion, and that’s why I wrote this article. Again, it’s possible things have changed.

Thanks for dropping in!

Kristine January 14, 2017 - 7:34 AM

I’d been to the Miracle Gardens in Dec but didn’t go to the butterfly gardens. Thankfully I didn’t, or I’ll feel sad seeing these! The floral garden was much nicer though! I loved the colors and installations so much I wrote about the place!

Gabby January 14, 2017 - 12:02 PM

I agree, the Miracle Gardens right next door was fantastic! I’ll have a piece coming out about it up soon too 😉

Brianna January 13, 2017 - 8:16 PM

This definitely doesn’t sound like a great place to visit. I hate when parents don’t control their children in public- especially when they’re causing damage or being disruptive to others. The dead butterfly art is also way morbid. It reminds me of that dead fish ice rink thing that got shut down not too long ago…

Gabby January 14, 2017 - 12:02 PM

UGH, it is exactly like that dead fish ice rink!! Uck

Elisabeth Bunch January 13, 2017 - 4:29 PM

Wow, this is so sad. Thank you so much for sharing your experience; I really appreciate the honest expression. Even sadder that this was in a place that supposedly should be celebrating this beautiful creature.

Stephanie Gardner January 13, 2017 - 3:58 PM

So sorry about your experience! The thing that got me was the dead butterflies…. Like I’m not sure what that symbolises in that part of the world, but as a tourist that would put me right off! So sad!

Gabby January 13, 2017 - 4:01 PM

Dead butterfly art is not something that happens remotely exclusively in the Middle East or UAE. I’ve seen dead butterflies used as art in the United States too.

Seeing anywhere really disturbs me but seeing it at a place that should be dedicated to celebrating butterflies just it sadder 🙁


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