Sometime around 2001-2002, while returning from the Isle of Wight and because we had time on our hands, we decided to follow the brown sign boards to the Living Rainforest in West Berkshire. The decision turned out to be a very good one. Two things have stuck to my mind about the place. They had a display of live Piranhas- the medium sized, deadly fish, which I had never seen before. Another display that I found exciting was that of ants. It was held in a glass display case. One corner held some grass, which the ants could be seen meticulously breaking into pieces. The ants were then transporting these broken pieces in a straight line to the other side of the display case where they had built an ant hill of considerable height. The ants were painstakingly depositing the grass pieces in the precise locations on the ant hill, after which they went back to the starting post. It was a fascinating display to watch and one can only wonder at the efforts required to put it all together.
The Living Rainforest is a small indoor greenhouse tropical rainforest run by the Trust for Sustainable Living. Because our first visit had been so successful, we decided to visit it again after a gap of nearly fourteen long years. The Piranhas and the ants were missing this time but the attraction remained as fascinating as ever. It is a small place but it does manage to give you the rainforest experience the minute you step in. The heat, humidity and the exotic greenery really do transport you into a tropical rainforest, if only for a short period of time.
Exotic, impossibly colourful butterflies fly around and birds sometimes get in your way as they walk around. The plants and trees are intriguing and complete with all the relevant information. Another unusual display was one which displayed the various stages of a butterfly, with the pupa and larva et al. It is disappointing that the attraction is so small. A larger attraction for the same price would have given a better value for the pounds.