During my visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History I attended the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit which consisted of an enclosed nature area where butterflies could roam about. Besides the butterflies the area was filled with all types of flora and fauna from koi fish to exotic plants that proliferated the sidewalks. The exhibit design was well done as it captured the feeling of being in a rainforest in terms of climate, observations, and the wildlife in the surrounding of the trail. I was purely drawn in by the lush green and the different butterflies because they were such a contrast to the normal, in-dorm sight that I have adjusted to ever since arriving to UF. In terms of the mediums available to expose oneself to nature, the exhibit of course was the best way to explore the beauty of rainforests, as there is nothing better than experiencing the real thing. Through the exhibit I learned to properly appreciate the life that exists within a rainforest biome without having to actually travel to one, which speaks to the educative potential of zoos, botany farms, and exhibits like this one.
Although nature exhibits are educative and convenient for us humans to experience the different environments that exist on Earth, we have to understand the ethical line that divides us and nature. In Leopold's view, the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit carefully preserved the plants that reside there, but I have to wonder if it was right for the butterflies to be captured like the above photo demonstrates. Technically we are catering for the needs of the plants and animals to survive, but is it an ethical way to go about it? To some extent I believe that the exhibit allowed for me to respect nature for what it inherently is without the connotations of "conquerors of the land", but I can't help but think that we are superimposing our will upon those of other living beings. My friends who accompanied me had amazement and awe plastered on their faces, as once again, the exhibit had captured the elements of being out in the wild and being in close contact with nature. Did the museum by itself instill an ethical responsibility to nature in me? Of course not, I have already been exposed to the majesty of nature as a child to inherent that responsibility in caring for our planet so that generations to come may prosper the same way we have.
Nature and the Human Spirit
Considering I am currently residing in mid-Florida, there are no rainforests to be found anywhere near, so the Natural History museum is really the only practical way to visit one. The museum helps us step out of our 'ordinary' lives by bringing us in touch with our primitive belongings, being outside with nature before the internet started to take over. We are only alive because of the food and water we reap from the land that surrounds us and the greenery that grows to provide breathable air. To finally reconnect with nature allows us to reflect on how far we have come as a race and society. To fully appreciate that which the natural world offers us means that we must do our part in preserving it for it will do the same for us.