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You probably wouldn’t expect to encounter tarantulas, macaws and endangered tamarin monkeys in a Swansea retail park, but visit the spectacular Plantasia, a public hothouse in Parc Tawe close to the city centre, and you’ll find these and much more besides. Easy to locate, as it’s housed in a unique glass pyramid, Plantasia has for a quarter of a century performed the vital function of raising awareness among locals and visitors about the level of rainforest destruction around the world, and the dangers of the consequent biodiversity loss.
Divided into two climate zones, tropical and arid, Plantasia is home to many rare animals, from the cute and cuddly - chameleons, the aforementioned tamarins, and bearded dragons, to the slightly less so - Burmese pythons, piranhas and all manner of creepy-crawlies, making this a superb visit for school groups and holidaymakers looking for an all-weather attraction that is both fun and educational. A tribal hut has also been constructed using traditional methods, which showcases authentic artefacts from the civilizations that live in rainforests, such as hammocks and tools. And, if the heat gets too much for you, there is a cafe selling drinks and snacks.
Everyone loves to see the animals, but as you might expect from the name, it is plant life that takes centre stage here at Plantasia. A dizzying array, from the edible - banana, papaya, grapefruit, coffee and cocoa - to the medicinal – aloe and tamarind - to the practical - papyrus, kapok, giant bamboo, reminds us of how essential rainforests are to human progress and survival.